Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Child Poverty, The Marriage Gap is Even Bigger Than the Race Gap

So says Maggie Gallagher in her fine chapter in Clayton, Mincy, and Blankenhorn's Black Fathers.

The black/white gap in child poverty is huge: 70% of black kids are poor, vs. only 25% of white kids. But the unmarried/married gap in child poverty is even greater: 81% of kids with unmarried parents are poor, vs. only 22% of kids with married parents.

How are these two rates connected? African Americans are much less likely to marry than whites, or any other racial ethnic group. Worse, poor black men are two to three times more likely to father children than other poor men are.

If the black and white marriage rates were the same, most of the racial poverty gap would disappear. The marital poverty gap, on the other hand, is not likely to close.


Mary Jo T said...

Recently I heard a compelling explanation for the low black marriage rate. Because young male blacks are incarcerated at high rates, there is a gender imbalance in the African-American community that puts women at a disadvantage. Because there are so few black men who aren't in jail to go around, black women have little power in their relationships, and feel pressured to have sex without demanding commitment. Because the black men don't have to commit to get sex, they don't. Makes sense to me.

Gruntled said...

I accept all of that. Nonetheless, giving in to that pressure is a disastrous mistake for black women and their children.

Donna Gail said...

The welfare system that allows unwed mothers to get along without husbands certainly plays a huge part in this problem. Big government has taken over the role of husband and provider for many poor women.