One of the most radical transformations in American society over the past four decades has been the change in family structure, particularly the rise in single-parent families. This is a complex development that has significant impact on poverty, education, the labor market, and myriad other social challenges. For a while, this was considered to be a "conservative" issue; then we stopped talking about it altogether. As my most recent post on US News & World Report argues, this is not a phenomenon we can easily reverse, but that is no reason to ignore it.
From the article:
"America’s family structure has termites in the basement, for two overlapping reasons. First, there has been a striking rise in single-parent families, particularly as the result of births to never-married mothers. Forty years ago, 10 percent of births were to unmarried mothers; today the proportion is over 40 percent. (These and other data are drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal study of nearly 5,000 children born between 1998 and 2000.)
"Second, the gap in economic outcomes between single-parent households and those headed by married couples is large and growing. The proportion of single-mother households living in poverty is 31 percent, compared to 6 percent for married households. The Fragile Families studies found that three-quarters of the women who were unmarried at the time of their child’s birth had experienced a spell of poverty by the time the child turned 5.
"Or, to cut the data slightly differently, more than 60 percent of all children living in poverty are in households headed by a single parent, usually the mother."
Read the full piece here.