This week in my Family Life class we are working through the fine series of black family studies done for the Institute for American Values over the past few years. Their major report, The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans: A Comprehensive Literature Review, is our starting point. It will not surprise readers of this blog that they found that marriage is beneficial to African Americans in many ways. In several comparisons between black and white marriages, whites tend to benefit more, especially white women. The researchers also found suggestions that black marriages are less happy and more conflict-ridden than white marriages.
This led me to wish for one control that the authors of this review of existing literature couldn't ask, since it wasn't in the original studies: social class. African Americans are, as a group poorer than white Americans. Poorer people, as as rule, have less happy and more conflict-ridden marriages. In reading the rest of these studies, therefore, we will be looking out for studies of the quality and benefits of black marriages controlling for class.