Sunday, January 27, 2013

Marriage: An Advantage You Can Make for Yourself (and Your Children)

The estimable Isabel Sawhill, in The Brookings Review, argues that class is displacing race as a determiner of life chances in America, and that family structure is a major factor in class.  These are themes I have often argued in this blog.  She writes

I am also struck by the lessons that emerge from looking at how trends in family formation have differed by class as well as by race. If we were once two countries, one black and one white, we are now increasingly becoming two countries, one advantaged and one disadvantaged.

I see here a crucial difference between the two kinds of division.  You can't change your race, and you can't change the family you are from.  But you can mostly determine the family that you make, the family your children will have. 

Marriage is an advantage that you can choose.


MMMSecret said...

Two of our last three presidents have come from single mother homes. Perhaps they may have, in some ways, come from a lesser advantage than their two-parented counterparts, but any disadvantage they faced was far more easily overcome than race was just 30 years ago. And a strong argument could be made that we need more leaders like those two gentlemen than like the "advantaged" one who came in between.

Do you suspect that children of single parents have less advantage now than they did in the days when Clinton and Obama were young?

Wouldn't a child be better off with a mother who did her best to try to learn how to be a good single mother and how to raise a successful child like the mothers of those gentlemen did than if the mother spent her efforts trying to find some man willing to marry her in order to match some ideal picture of what a family unit should look like?

Rosemary W. said...

I bet the majority of boys raised by single moms are more likely to end up in jail than not.

MMMSecret said...

Rosemary, Given that upwards of 40% of our children are born to unmarried women these days, we had better hope you are wrong.

And I personally find it a bit tragic that you would judge such a huge portion of our population based on their parentage like that.

Rosemary W. said...

I wish I were wrong. Not judging just stating a fact.