Posts Tagged 'Politics'

Pure Mood affiliation

Pure Mood affiliation

Do we need a cultural shift regarding single parenthood?   Yes, based on the above essay, I say we desperately need a shift.

Does marriage alleviate poverty?  Yes.

‘”It’s clear that married-couple families are better off economically, because there are potentially two workers in the family,” says Margaret Simms, a fellow at the Urban Institute and director of its Low-Income Working Families Project. “But you cannot solve poverty by just marrying people if – jointly – they cannot generate sufficient income to raise a family above poverty.”’

You still have to actually work.  Marriage doesn’t supply you with a magic cash flow but yep it pretty much eliminates poverty.

So we should encourage marriage, right?  Nope.  Why not?  Because children of single mothers who later married found almost no, which is another way of saying found some, physical or mental health benefits and oh yeah some of those marriages ended in divorce.

‘In her own research and elsewhere, studies have overwhelmingly found very few benefits to marriage for single mothers and their children. Williams has looked at more than 30 years worth of national data and found almost no physical or mental health benefits to children of single mothers who later married. Another national study found that nearly two-thirds of single mothers who did later marry were divorced by the time they were 35-44. A study of the marriage-promotion programs funded through welfare reform also found few long-term results.’

That isn’t a coherent argument against encouraging marriage.  It is an argument that poverty doesn’t matter.  If marriage greatly reduces poverty but the more important indicators, such as the physical and mental well being of children, still do not improve despite improved material well being, poverty does not matter.

Again it is not a choice of encouraging marriage, which is really just a proxy for stable long term relationships, or government programs aimed at helping single parents.  We can do both.

Watching someone tie themselves into knots trying to explain away the obvious and huge benefits of marriage shows just how badly we need a cultural shift regarding single parenthood.

The secret formula that eliminates poverty.

The secret formula that eliminates poverty.

Again, maybe we could just inform people of the benefits of not having children out of wedlock?  Why not treat single parenthood like teen pregnancy?    What if a magic formula existed that would make it 8 times less likely that your children would grow up in poverty?   What if millions of people were not taking it and their children were growing up in poverty?   Would we say, ‘It’s not realistically (or desirably) in Washington’s power to force parents to drink the magic formula’ and leave it at that?  Or would we scream at the top of our lungs that people should drink the magic formula and stop condemning themselves and their children to a life of poverty.  Obliviously the later.  Marriage isn’t a magic formula, but encouraging marriage, by detailing the enormous costs to children of single parenthood, seems like it might help at the margin.

Brooks or Yglesias?

Who is right?  Brooks or Yglesias?  Is a traditional family structure the key to better outcomes for children or is materiel well being the crucial factor?

It certainly looks like traditional family structures plays a role. Children are best off in a traditional nuclear family at every income level.

Don’t believe it? OK.  But only 6.3  of married families lived in poverty.  This makes sense. When you double the number of potential wage earners in a family you greatly increase the family’s chances of a much higher income.

So should we run around the country with a shotgun forcing poor people to get married?  I say we don’t need to do anything so drastic.  A much better solution would be to just repeatedly inform everyone  about the double benefits for children of a traditional family structure.  Explain that is best if  everything reasonably possible has been done to insure that a child is born into a traditional family structure.  We don’t need to scold anyone.  A dry recitation of the facts about the impact of single parenthood on incomes and childhood outcomes is all that is needed.   Think of it as a public health campaign.

Would it work?  Maybe.  Why not?  We have spent a lot of time informing teenagers about the consequences of teen pregnancy.  The result is a 50% decline in teen pregnancy from 1991  to 2012.

Imagine if 50% more children were born into 2 parent households, 50% of those marriages lasted, and 90% of those households avoided poverty.  If all that happened we would expect to see a decrease of say about 20% in poverty.  That would be huge!

The nice thing is that it is not an either or choice of Brooks or Yglesias.  It is possible to explain and promote the enormous benefits of a traditional family structure while at the same time pushing for more material resources for all family’s living at or near the poverty line.