Skip to comments.A 2012 Father's Day Message of Encouragement and Warning : "The Single-Mom Catastrophe"
Posted on 06/16/2012 7:39:47 PM PDT by Patton@Bastogne
The mission of the Manhattan Institute is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.
The Single-Mom Catastrophe
June 03, 2012
By Kay S. Hymowitz
The demise of two-parent families in the U.S. has been an economic catastrophe for society.
The single-mother revolution shouldnt need much introduction. It started in the 1960s when the nation began to sever the historical connection between marriage and childbearing and to turn single motherhood and the fatherless family into a viable, even welcome, arrangement for children and for society.
The reasons for the shift were many, including the sexual revolution, a powerful strain of anti-marriage feminism and a "super bug" of American individualism that hit the country in the 1960s and 70s.
In its broad outlines, the story is familiar by now. In 1965, 93% of all American births were to women with marriage licenses.
Over the next few decades,the percentage of babies with no father around rose steadily. As of 1970, 11% of births were to unmarried mothers; by 1990, that number had risen to 28%. Today, 41% of all births are to unmarried women. And for mothers under 30, the rate is 53%.
Though other Western countries also concluded that it was OK for the unmarried to have kids, what they had in mind as the substitute for marriage was something similar to it: a stable arrangement in which two partners, cohabiting over the long term, would raise their children together.
The embrace of "lone motherhood" women bringing up kids with no dad around has been an American specialty.
"By age 30, one-third of American women had spent time as lone mothers," observed family scholar Andrew Cherlin in his 2009 book, "The Marriage-Go-Round."
"In European countries such as France, Sweden and the western part of Germany, the comparable percentages were half as large or even less."
The single-mother revolution has been an economic catastrophe for women.
Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn.
In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83% are headed by single mothers.
The Brookings Institutions Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates.
Well, comes the response, maybe single mothers are hard up not because they lack husbands but because unskilled, low-earning women are likelier to become single mothers in the first place.
The Urban Institutes Robert Lerman tried to address that objection by studying low-income women who had entered "shotgun" unions that is, getting married after getting pregnant on the theory that they represented a population roughly similar to those who got pregnant but didnt marry.
The married women, he found, had a significantly higher standard of living than the unmarried ones. "Even among the mothers with the least qualifications and highest risks of poverty," Lerman concluded, "marriage effects are consistently large and statistically significant."
Women and their children werent the only ones to suffer the economic consequences of the single-mother revolution; low-earning men have lost ground too.
Knowing that women are now expected to be able to raise children on their own, unskilled men lose much of the incentive to work, especially at the sometimes disagreeable jobs that tend to be the ones they can get.
Scholars consistently find that unmarried men work fewer hours, make less money and get fewer promotions than do married men.
Experts have come to believe that these are not just selection effects that is, they dont just reflect the fact that productive men are likelier to marry.
Marriage itself, it seems, encourages male productivity. One study by Donna Ginther and Madeline Zavodny examined men whod had shotgun marriages and thus probably hadnt been planning to tie the knot.
The shotgun husbands nevertheless earned more than their single peers did.
Its true that some opportunities particularly well-paying manufacturing jobs have declined for men. But a fathers contribution to the family income, even if its just $15,000, can dramatically improve the mothers lot, not to mention that of her or rather, their children.
And its still possible for families to move up to the middle class, despite the factory closings of the last few decades.
Ron Haskins of the Pew Center on the States Economic Mobility Project puts it this way: "If young people do three things graduate from high school, get a job and get married and wait until theyre 21 before having a baby they have an almost 75% chance of making it into the middle class."
Those are pretty impressive odds.
On the other hand, those who opt for single motherhood are hurting not just themselves but their offspring. The children of single mothers are twice as likely as children growing up with both parents to drop out of high school.
Those who do graduate are less likely to go to college, even if you control for household income and the mothers education.
Decades of research show that kids growing up with single mothers (again, even after you allow for the obvious variables) have lower scholastic achievement from kindergarten through high school, as well as higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, behavior problems and teen pregnancy.
All these factors are likely to reduce their eventual incomes at a time when what children need is more education, more training and more planning.
The rise in single motherhood was ill-adapted for the economic shifts of the late 20th century.
Original Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-hymowitz-unmarried-mothers-20120603,0,1889065.story
The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.
Happy Father’s Day to you!
....and to all the Dads, Granddads and those who have Dads or have
had Dads that have passed this life.
I had hoped that this type of big government conservatism nonsense had been beaten down with the removal of Dubya. Here we go again.
Yes single moms arent ideal and often are a drain on the economy & society IF repeat IF the woman only has high school degree or less. A factoid that the author of this piece leaves out is that single women with a BA or higher have the educational background to provide a middle class lifestyle for their kid(s) which does not necessitate the use of government bennies.
The unspoken reason that the compassionate conservative buffoon leaves that out is to trumpet and demand a big government solution - alter Federal policy to increase marriage levels. Once again, big government does not work! Leave me and my family alone. Keep your hands off of my firearms and my pocket book.
Patron, thank you so much and Happy Fathers Day to you also.
I can't be too impressed with an article that leaves out the number one reason for the huge increase in single motherhood beginning in the '60s: government implemented welfare programs that paid women to have children out-of-wedlock and did little to require biological father's to assume any responsibility at all.
And the benefits paid to out-of-wedlock mothers has only increased over the years, and are worth more than most of the single mothers could earn in the job market. An all round disaster and major reason for our nation's fiscal and budget problems.
Kids who grow up without a father in the house--even if the father lives nearby and is "involved" in the kids' lives--have far more problems than kids whose fathers are on deck, at home. Even middle-income, middle-class single mothers have children with far more emotional problems, learning disabilities, contact with the juvenile court system, early sex, and pregnancy. Those things all cost the taxpayer money and are destructive to society in the long run.
I write this not to condemn single mothers, since I'm (sadly) a divorced mother myself. I'm only pointing out that earning money to support a family is a full-time job and taking care of a family physically is also a full-time job; few people can manage to do two full-time jobs without help and not make mistakes or become exhausted.
And, Happy Father’s Day to you and to all the men who understand and appreciate the honor, the rewards and the responsibilities that we share as fathers. Nothing else we do is more important.
I thank God for the strength, the guidance and the blessings that I have received through simple faith.
“she doesn’t have the right equipment to be a father to her children.”
Says you. And again my point stands - whine all you want about the single motherhood issue. KEEP YOUR BIG GOVERNMENT FANTASIES TO YOURSELF! They do NOT work as made evident during Dubya’s time in office. Leave me, my family, my guns and my pocket book alone.
Yes, says me. If she does have the right equipment, she's had a sex-change operation or she's a tranny. Women are not men and can't be fathers, hard as some might want to be. Women and men interact with their children very differently, and men have different things to teach children than women do. Saying otherwise devalues men and fathers. If women have the right equipment to be fathers, then the feminists are right and we really don't need men, except as sperm donors.
And again my point stands - whine all you want about the single motherhood issue. KEEP YOUR BIG GOVERNMENT FANTASIES TO YOURSELF! They do NOT work as made evident during Dubyas time in office. Leave me, my family, my guns and my pocket book alone.
My goodness, rather hot-tempered, aren't you? I specifically pointed out that I AGREE about big government staying out of family life, and I don't have big-government fantasies, but you're still on about it.
Another achievement for Obama’s America: A nation of bastards. Yay.
“Big government,” that is, socialism with excessive government spending, was required to support the divorce/cohabitation paradigm against potential domestic competition (the real, technically inclined producers).
And the divorce/cohabitation trend was born in force long before Obama was in office. It’s been a bipartisan, socialist effort by the political/regulator class. Have fun. Enjoy the consequences. They’re right in front of us. We’re not quite there, yet.
Kay wrote a great piece, BTW. I remember replying to her in Commentary Magazine long ago (little polite argument back then).
Remember, Celebrate and Give Thanks...
I disagree with your statement that a single (intentional) mother can model ideal female behavior-—wrong. She is modeling selfish, immature behavior.
The reason both men and women are needed as parent role models is for the intimate observation that family life offers—a look into the interaction between male and females where children can figure out the differences and similarities of the TWO sexes-—what is a good male—what is a good female? They need to learn what is normal and not—they need Virtue modeled so they will become Virtuous.
Girls who do not have a loving father figure will be promiscuous and always searching for males to give her that nurture and love that wasn’t there when she was young. It doesn’t matter that she had a lone female to model herself after. Children need a loving mother and a loving father to learn how to live a full and meaningful life.
This is necessary for basic long term future mature relationship with the opposite sex. Their young world has to have healthy male and female role models so they can deal with all human beings and be comfortable with both sexes. It is the ideal.
I was not referring to the women who deliberately get themselves pregnant, but to the women who are forced to raise their kids alone--the widows and unwilling divorcees. Many a man (like Abraham Lincoln) will speak or write with reverence about the noble spirit of his lonely mother. My point was that no matter how wonderful a mother is, she can't be a father.
In a divorce, both parents are selfish. Divorce is a trainwreck for the kids.
And for Father's Day, a bit of wisdom:
"The greatest thing a father can do for his kids is to love their mother."
The greatest thing a father can do is demonstrate his love and respect for their mother. It creates the perfect home for children because it teaches children to love and it makes the mother a very happy one.
Happiness-—Dennis Prager talks alot about the importance of happiness.
I agree. But Tom Lincoln spent quite a bit of time with Abe. His mother and stepmother were wonderful.
“Women are not men and can’t be fathers, hard as some might want to be.”
This has applicability only for those who have a high school diploma or less. Big government for Jesus GOPers refuse to make that distinction which leads to their mastabatory fantasies of Dubya-esque nanny state programs. By refusing to make that distinction you’re part of the problem.
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