The Poverty Cure: Get Married

Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A great piece by the last center-left Democrat in America, Prof. William Galston:

Of the many barriers to equal opportunity for African-Americans, differences of family background may well be the most consequential—and the least likely to yield to public policy. This is the gravamen of research made public in recent weeks, much of it collected in the fall 2015 issue of the academic journal the Future of Children.

Although there were signs of trouble to come in the 1960s, racial differences in marriage rates remained modest until 1970, when 95% of white women and 92% of black women had been married at least once. By 2012, however, a large gap had emerged: 88% of white women age 40-44 were or had been married, compared with only 63% of black women.

Education makes a difference: Among black women with a bachelor’s degree or more, the ever-married rate is 71%; for those with no more than a high-school diploma, it is only 56%. But race also matters. The ever-married rate for college-educated black women is 17 percentage points lower than for white women, while the black/white gap among the least-educated women is a stunning 31 points.

As a result, other differences are stark. Consider that 71% of African-American infants are born to unmarried women, compared with 29% for white women. The birth of a child doesn’t motivate many African-American couples to get married: 66% of black children are not living with married parents. Nor does it keep their unmarried biological parents together.

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Taking on the Real Marriage Inequality

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

The Democrats like to talk about every kind of inequality, except the most devastating: marriage inequality.

No I am not talking about the fact that non-marital unions aren’t treated as marriages (whether it is same-sex unions, or the latest progressive complaint over “singlism”).

The most important marriage inequality in America is that 42 percent of children are growing up apart from their own mom and dad joined by marriage, according to the Census data (Current Population Survey) analyzed by respected family scholar Nicholas Zill.

Of course the half-full good news in that is marriage is showing persistent and surprising strength: overall almost 6 in 10 children are living in intact married, biological families. And additional 4 percent are living with their biological mom and dad who have not (or not yet) married. (Less than 1 percent of American children live with two adopted parents.)

I was surprised to learn that families like my own, consisting of a biological parent and a stepparent are just 5 percent of American families (although many more children “pass through” such a family form temporarily—children are typically older when they enter this form and blended families typically have fewer joint children than intact families).  In fact children are just about as likely to be living with no parents at all (4 percent) as in a blended family.  Almost a quarter, 23 percent) live with a single mom, and an additional 4 percent live with their single dad.

Almost 9 out of 10 children with college-educated parents live in intact married families with their mom and dad (86 percent), compared to just 51 percent of children whose parents have only a high school diploma. Continue Reading