Pew Research: The Bleak Reality of Single Parent Households

A read through the whole report points to the unavoidable conclusion that a major goal of social policy has to be the formation of two-parent households.

This shouldn’t involve—as the occasional dorky pastor type or culture warrior might imagine—giving chastity and abstinence lessons to teens. Such lessons aren’t a bad thing necessarily; it’s just that over the centuries this kind of influence appears to be, well, limited. And on the other side of the divide, this isn’t about birth control either. Short of lacing the tap water with birth control drugs, we aren’t going to get anywhere on the single parent problem by focusing on this end of the equation. In fact, as birth control (and abortion) became more available, the numbers of single parent households has more than doubled—from the sixties with the pill on up through Roe v. Wade in the 1970s. Availability of birth control to women who want or need it is important for other reasons, but an increase in birth control availability isn’t associated with any kind of decline in the illegitimacy rate.

There is, however, a lot that can be done by looking at how young men figure in to the problem. To be a father but not be married to the mother of your children needs to be made both unnecessary and uncool. More role models ought to help here: we need more men in schools, and more men in the agencies that interact with youth. And much could be done by thinking creatively about employment and regulation policy: cities like New York and Chicago ought to be tinkering with their regulatory and economic policies to create the kinds of jobs that young men without a college degree can do.

It took a generation to dismantle fatherhood. It’ll take another to resurrect it.

By the way, a lot of “dorky pastor types” are damn good role models. Dolts.

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