Friday, May 27, 2011

Using Prenups to Fight No-Fault

Heather Mahar, a researcher at Harvard Law School, has been studying pre-nuptial agreements. She found, not surprisingly, that most people do not want to use them for fear of signaling (or causing) ambivalence about the marriage. Mahar thinks prenuptial agreements do comply with what economists think is rational, but not with the emotional commitments that most people value more highly.

Mahar does, though, think that premarital counseling should include a prenuptial checklist, so a couple can work through their common values about marriage, including what they think about divorce.

The most interesting part of Mahar's research to me was that some couples use prenups to establish higher standards for divorce than the low "no-fault" standards that most states use. Couples can specify the only grounds that they will allow for divorce, such as adultery, desertion, violence, or crime, and the distribution of assets that the guilty party must suffer as a result. Since many courts are unwilling to enforce the marriage contract itself, but instead allow unilateral divorce, strengthening the marriage contract through a personal pre-nuptial agreement might be worth doing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Richer, Educated Women Have Fewer Abortions

The abortion rate overall has dropped 8% over from 2000 to 2008, according to a Guttmacher Institute study. However, the abortion rate for poor women rose 18%. This means that richer, better educated women are having fewer abortions.

Poor women now make up 42% of those who have abortions. If the present trend continues, within a decade I expect that poor women will have most of the one million plus annual abortions in this country.

Educated women are already marrying more and divorcing less than they did a decade ago. If they are also having fewer abortions, this bodes well for developing truly planned and sustained family life in the college class.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Quarter of Moms with Two Kids Had Them by Different Men

Twenty-eight percent of mothers with two or more children had them by two or more different men.

Among black women, 59% had them by two or more men.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Christian Schools Produce Decent Citizens

Ray Pennings, in the Cardus Religion Survey, presents these interesting conclusions from a comprehensive study of Protestant Christian school graduates:

Compared to their public school, Catholic school, and non-religious private school peers, Protestant Christian school graduates have been found to be uniquely compliant, generous, outwardly focused individuals who stabilize their communities by their uncommon commitment to their families, their churches, and larger society.

He goes on to say that they marry more, divorce less, and have more kids. Christian school graduates are changing the world - from the bottom up, by living decent lives. They are not primarily aimed at changing large social structures.

Indeed, I think the Christian Right has been so vocal about turning family values and biblical values into business-oriented national political positions precisely because macro politics is so at odds with the lives and concerns of the core evangelical Protestant world.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Centre Commencement

Today was Centre College Commencement. It was lovely. And exhausting.

Sabbatical begins tomorrow. I will seek The Happy Society in earnest.