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.
What in the hell was that?
Not necessarily. Sometimes it's just one spouse who is being selfish. Sometimes one party is absolutely determined to pursue a life with drugs, alcohol, violence, other people. Sometimes mental illness or crime are involved. It's not possible for one spouse to prevent divorce if the other is determined. There are a lot of people on FR, of both sexes, who can tell you that it doesn't take two spouses to cause a divorce. Don't judge.
Divorce is a trainwreck for the kids.
Absolutely right. It's an ongoing tragedy for the children and for society. No-fault divorce laws were among the factors contributing to the huge numbers of kids being raised without a father in the home.
This has applicability only for those who have a high school diploma or less.
You really think that if a woman has a college degree and/or can make a middle- or upper-middle income, she can give her children the same things a father can? I'm not talking about material objects at all; perhaps you are. But rich or poor or in the middle, dads teach things unique to their sex. No woman in the world can do what a father can do for kids, just as no man can do what a mother can do. It has nothing to do with money or education. It's all to do with biology.
You don't seem to value the presence of a father in the home very highly, if you think a father can be replaced by a mother with money. You must be a woman.
“You really think that if a woman has a college degree and/or can make a middle- or upper-middle income, she can give her children the same things a father can?”
Enough that government intervention is unwarranted. However big government for Jesus conservatives aren’t interested in that conclusion. Interferes with their nanny state plans.
Same to you my FRiend!
sorry I’m coming in so late — it’s the end of the school year and I am utterly exhausted.
I wanted you to know that YOU ARE RIGHT!!!
You, and Dr. Laura: A woman cannot raise a boy to be a man!!
As a high school teacher (who has also worked in middle school) I can pretty much look around a room and tell you who has a father at home or not. Kids with fathers are usually much better behaved, more settled and more focused. A threat to call home if a father is present usually ends the misbehavior on the spot — I know in my home if I misbehaved at school, that would have been my last day on earth!! — I never did screw up at school precisely because I DIDN’T want to disappoint my dad.
We have single mothers down at the school ALL THE TIME who don’t know what to do with their large, unruly teenaged sons — teenaged sons who are often VERY disrespectful to their mothers, right in front of us.
DH (high school counselor, dad died early in his life and he’s never gotten over it) — had a kid the other day who called his mother a b**** right in the office — he came OVER the desk, grabbed the kid by the collar and almost strangled him. Told the POS kid he was NEVER to disrespect his mother like that again EVER.
This is the legacy of single motherhood: What happens when the teenaged son is out of control, unruly, won’t listen, gets in trouble??
We in the schools deal with this every day.
All the best to you.
-——We have single mothers down at the school ALL THE TIME who dont know what to do with their large, unruly teenaged sons teenaged sons who are often VERY disrespectful to their mothers, right in front of us.-——
My sister’s going through this. She calls me all the time for advice, but I can’t offer much. You can’t unring the divorce bell. I try to spend time with her boys, but an uncle is a poor substitute for a dad.
I wanted you to know that I was really touched by your post.
In this age of sissified males, metrosexuals, tattooed wimps and losers like the ones portrayed on TV (none of which I believe) it’s good to know there are STILL real men and REAL fathers out there.
There is NO question in my mind my husband, father or brother would lay down his for us women and children.
My husband changed diapers, played “dolls and tea party” with his daughter, threw balls and played golf with his son, hauled all the kids and their friends to the beach, the movies, the skating rink — let the boys tear around the backyard, like boys, and rode bikes and scooters with them. He was never too tired to play or wrestle with his kids, his fatherless nephews or their zillion friends and they were and are always always always welcome at our home, even for days on end if need by.
We feed ‘em all and some DO come over hungry — one day my daughter, when she was very young and didn’t know better asked her absent-father cousin: “Don’t you wish you had a dad like ours?!’
This is what REAL men do, REAL fathers - they take care of their kids, making sure they’re safe, well fed, clothed, educated, moral and happy.
It’s what my father did for me, my brother did for his kids, my husband for our kids.
There ARE real fathers out there, and I thank God every day for them, it’s what keeps our civilization together.
ANY amount of time you can spend with those boys is going to help tremendously, believe me! They need a male presence in their lives.
My husband has five absent-father nephews and one niece — he has taken them to the Monster Truck show, WWE events, the pig and goat races at the fair — or even watched wrestling on TV with them, he takes them bike riding and to movies that boys like where things blow up in giant fireballs. Once, he had a silly spitting contest with them and they LOVED it.
Please, try to stay involved in the boys’ lives, it is really important to their mental health.
——Please, try to stay involved in the boys lives, it is really important to their mental health.-—
Ok 8-) It’s not that I don’t love to. It’s just finding time.
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