THE CHANGING FACE OF THE AMERICAN FAMILY
Recently I had written on the racial unrest and violent crime increases across this great country of ours, The cause that usually goes undiagnosed and under-reported is the lack of a stable home and/ or good parenting. It is hard to ignore the current trend.
The Pew Research Group has solid reports on just how dramatic this has been. Most people know them for their surveys on American opinions, but this was much more factbased and is confirmed by the US census. Sociologists disagree on the causes and their significance, so I will not attempt to analyze each. But here are some of the numbers
In 1960, 73% of American children under 18 lived in homes with two heterosexual, first marriage biological parents. 14% were in homes with a second marriage, 9% in single parent homes, and 4% in homes with neither biological parent.
In 1980, the number of the first group had fallen 12 points to 61%, the second group had only increased to 16%, the single parent homes jumped ten points to 19% and the final group held at 4%.
In 2000, the numbers were 51% (still just barely the majority), 15% (still little change) but single parent homes grew to 29% while the no parent home nudged to 5%.
In 2013, the first non census year, they reported only 46% in the first group, 15% in the remarried group still, but 34% (over 1/3rd) in the single parent, and still 5% in the no parent group.
Without delving into the high divorce rate or single parent-by-choice issues, it is obvious that those who wish to believe “things are no different today than they were 50 years ago” are just wrong. The breakdowns for demographics by socioeconomic class, race, and geographic location are revealing.
This was documented as far back as 1965 in the Moynihan Report for the Department of Labor detailing the negative effects primarily in the urban African-American population by the late NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. I assume almost everyone is familiar with it. What is disturbing is that in spite of his clarion call for policy and planning that ignited LBJ’s “War on Poverty” things have actually gotten worse.
According to the Urban Institute, they have “gotten worse not only for Blacks, but for Whites and Hispanics as well” in their new “The Moynihan Report Revisited.” Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, summarized the report this way, “We have scores of studies that show that kids that grow up in single-women-headed families don’t fare as well, are more likely to do poorly in school and to drop out of school, to be arrested, to become single parents themselves,” he said. “These factors reinforce the economic disadvantages that these kids face and impact the larger black community.” As divisive as most social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and gun rights can be, this one should be an issue we should be able to find uniform agreement on being addressed. The problem is, I don’t hear anyone addressing it.