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How valuable are two parent families?

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Came across this story on a new book in the US which examines the "privilege" of having 2 parent families.
The full discussion is very thoughtful.
I have added the link for the full interview and have posted the edited version below.

Why Two Parents Are the Ultimate Privilege

Half of American babies are born to unmarried mothers. And those with two parents, Melissa Kearney argues, have an immense advantage.​



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(Photo by Lambert via Getty Images)
One of the words that’s become utterly void of meaning in the last few years because of its overuse and misuse is privilege. White privilege, male privilege, able-bodied privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, even hot privilege. In these contexts, privilege is a stain, an original sin meant to guilt the offending party into repentance.

“Check your privilege” became a common refrain of the past decade. What all of this has done is confuse and undermine the idea of real privilege, which, of course, really exists in this country.

The ultimate privilege in America is not being born white or straight or male. The ultimate privilege, as Melissa Kearney argues, is being born into a household with two parents.

Melissa Kearney is an economist at the University of Maryland and her new book, The Two-Parent Privilege: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind, argues that declining marriage rates in America—and the corresponding rise in children being raised in single parent households—are driving many of the country’s biggest economic problems. In the 1950s, fewer than 5 percent of babies in this country were born to unmarried mothers. Today, nearly half of all babies in America are born to unmarried mothers. Most surprising—and worrisome—is how this trend is divided along class lines, with children whose mothers don’t have a college degree being more than twice as likely—compared to the children of college-educated mothers—to live in a single parent home.

Many of the arguments Kearney makes in her book are what you might call common sense. And yet the book has received criticism. But as celebrated economist and our friend Tyler Cowen said of Melissa’s book, “it’s remarkable that such a book is so needed, but it is.”

The word privilege, as Melissa Kearney uses it, is not a dirty word. Quite the opposite. It’s aspirational. It’s meant to inspire policies, programs, and changes in our social norms to even the playing field so that we can do better for all of our children. So that every child in America has the best possible chance for flourishing. That is what every child in this country deserves.

Click here to listen to my full conversation with Melissa or read an edited excerpt below. —BW



Why people aren’t getting married anymore:


BW: Over the past 40 years, there has been a dramatic decline in the share of children living with married parents. In the 1950s, less than 5 percent of babies in America were born out of wedlock. Today, half of all babies in this country are born to unmarried mothers. How did we get from there to here?

MK: It’s a misconception that couples are becoming less wed to the institution of marriage, so they’re just cohabiting. That’s not the case. Roughly 30 percent of kids in the U.S. live outside a two-parent home. More kids in the U.S. than in any other country in the world are now living with just one parent. And it’s not about an increase in divorce. Divorce in the U.S. is down from the mid-eighties. This decline in marriage, this rise in the share of kids living with just one parent, and this rise in nonmarital childbearing, has happened predominantly outside the college-educated class. That’s why this topic is so instrumental to conversations and concerns about inequality and threats to social mobility. It’s really among more economically vulnerable parents that there’s been this rise in kids living outside of a two-parent or married parent setting.

BW: This wasn’t always the case. From the 1960s through the 1990s, women with college degrees were actually less likely to be married than women without college degrees. What happened in those intervening decades?

MK: In the ’60s and ’70s, there was a sociocultural revolution in the U.S., which included changing expectations about marriage, a greater acceptance of having a child outside of a marriage, and changing expectations about gender norms. We saw decreases in marriage across the education distribution in roughly equal proportion. In the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s, marriage rates among college-educated adults stabilized. Economics is a big part of the story. College-educated adults did really well in those decades, and they continued to see increases in their earnings. But outside the college-educated class, men saw their employment rates decline and their earnings decline.

We saw a loss in a number of jobs that in previous generations provided family-sustaining, well-paying jobs for men without college degrees: manufacturing jobs, industrial production jobs, etc. Those jobs were eliminated, and we saw a corresponding decrease in marriage and an increase in the share of kids living in single-mother homes among affected communities such that economists have drawn a causal connection. That’s the sort of unromantic model that strips out love and compatibility and just looks at the economic incentives to marry or not. It turns out to be pretty predictive.

BW: The one big exception to the rule here is Asian American families, who across all education groups and all classes have really high rates of marriage and two-parent households. Why do you think that is, and what can we learn from their success?

MK: That was the finding that surprised me the most when writing this book. Among whites, among blacks, among Hispanics, there’s this huge college gradient. But among Asian Americans, regardless of maternal education, there are really high rates of two-parent homes. So the least-educated moms who identify in the census as Asian American are more likely to live in married parent situations than the most educated Hispanic and black moms. It’s not explained by different economic situations. Non-college-educated Asian men saw the same economic trends over the past 40 years as white men, black men, and Hispanic men, but without the subsequent reduction in marriage. That makes me think that there is a strong role here for social convention.

Why the decline in marriage is bad for children and bad for the economy:

BW: You say that the decline in the two-parent household has economic consequences that we cannot afford to ignore. Why is a two-parent household, from the perspective of an economist—not a social conservative or a pastor—better than one parent in the household?

MK: Two parents combined have more resources than one. Two parents in a home bring in the earnings—or at least the earnings capacity—of two adults. And so, in a very straightforward way, we see that kids growing up in single-mother homes are five times more likely to live in poverty than kids growing up in married parent homes. (Kids in single-father homes are three times as likely to live in poverty.) Some of that reflects the fact that people with lower levels of education or income are more likely to become single parents. But even if you compare across moms of the same education group, you see that kids who grow up in a household with two parents have household incomes that are about twice as high. That means that those parents are paying for things like a nicer house in a safe neighborhood with good school districts. But they also spend more time with their kids. We see that kids who grow up with married parents have more parental time invested in them: reading to your kid, talking to your kid, driving your kids to activities. If there are two parents in the household, there’s just more time capacity.

None of this is to denigrate single moms or single dads. It’s just a reflection of the reality that two adults in the household have more combined time than one alone. Another set of resources that we have a lot of evidence on is there’s more “emotional bandwidth” (and less stress) in households that have two parents as compared to one. We see in the data that married parents are less likely to resort to spanking and harsher parenting. They’re more likely to report having strong, nurturing bonds with their kids. We also see that kids from two-parent households are less likely to have behavioral issues. They’re more likely to reach educational milestones. They’re less likely to get in trouble with the law. All things that set them up to be in a better position to thrive in life.

It’s certainly not the case that all of these single-parent households would be better off if the second parent were in the house. We have evidence that when the second parent might be a negative influence, the child is better off with just one parent. If the second parent would bring instability and chaos, that’s not good for the kid.

BW: Some people might hear all of these dire statistics and think, “We were better off in the world before the 1960s, where men had a very clear socially prescribed role as the breadwinners and women had a very clearly socially prescribed role, which is they took care of the home, and maybe we should return back to that.” How would you respond?

MK: I do not in any sense bemoan women’s economic independence. Unequivocally, I think it’s a good thing that women are more able to provide financially for themselves and their children and not have to be married. Having said that, to the extent that these trends are being driven by men’s economic opportunity and position being eroded, that’s a bad thing. And we should be able to hold both of those thoughts in our mind at the same time, that women having economic opportunities is a good thing and men losing earnings potential and employment is a bad thing.

Another important thing to note is in survey evidence, you don’t see widespread rejection of marriage as an institution. You don’t see in the U.S. that there’s been a widespread move away from the desire to get married. Rather, it feels like achieving a stable, married home is a bit of a luxury good. It’s something that’s harder for people without higher levels of education and income to achieve. So for that reason, we should not be okay with that advantageous institution being something that’s increasingly out of reach for those who aren’t in the highest education income classes in our society.

On solutions to the single-parent problem:

BW: What are some of the policies and programs that you think the local and federal government should adopt to help strengthen families?

MK: If you look at the Administration for Children and Families budget, only 1 percent of their budget goes to community programs that have an explicit goal of strengthening families. I would put a lot more money and research emphasis on building up an evidence base in the kinds of community programs that work and then scale them. We also need to double down on all of the things that we talk about to improve the economic position of adults in this country without college degrees. If the adult can’t bring in money and doesn’t have stable employment, that brings so many struggles. Bolstering the economic position of vulnerable adults and parents is really critical and we just haven’t done enough there.

I also think we need to promote a social convention of two-parent homes for kids. We do have social science evidence suggesting that role models matter, that celebrity messaging matters, that local leader messaging matters. This is why I think it’s important we’re honest about the benefits of two-parent households and fatherhood engagement for kids. I think many people are rightly hesitant to promote two-parent households because in the past, single mothers and their children were so stigmatized that they were essentially outcasts from communities. We should never go back to that, but there’s got to be a way for us to promote two-parent involvement in their kids’ lives.

BW: One of the things that is surprising about our current moment is that some of the programs, including subsidies and tax credits, that used to be thought of as the precinct of the political left, have now been embraced by surprising people on the right. Talk to us about the changing politics of this issue that makes you think bipartisanship might be possible on this.

MK: People on the left have traditionally been more willing or eager to spend money to help low-income families. Now, people on the right are very explicit about the need for pro-family policy agenda. We all want to build a healthier society for families, and we should be supporting vulnerable families regardless of parental marriage structure. In the past, cash welfare was only available to single moms, and if you had a man living in the house, you would lose your check. Obviously, that’s a bad idea.

Even though we don’t explicitly disincentivize marriage now, our tax and transfer system does implicitly disincentivize marriage. For example, if you’re married and you’re both working, you’re much less likely to qualify for the earned income tax credit because our tax code works where you pool the income across two people. So a woman who might be on the margin of making $30,000 gets the earned income tax credit. If she marries that guy making $50,000, her and her child lose the earned income tax credit and lose Medicaid. This gives her the incentive to cohabit instead of getting married. And so our tax and transfer system unintentionally does discourage marriage—at least between two people who work. We should be getting rid of all of those legacy effects.

Why this is “forbidden” research:

BW: This book and your findings have been received like it’s been a nuclear bomb, at least in certain contexts. Why is that? How did this topic become so out of bounds?

MK: This issue was first raised very prominently by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the ’60s when he was an analyst at the Department of Labor, and he wrote a memo calling attention to the large share of unmarried moms in that black American community at the time. A big part of his memo was saying there’s high unemployment rates among black men that’s contributing to this. But in the ’60s, it got shut down with accusations of him being a racist. And there was some really unfortunate language that would strike us now as unproductive, as cultural shaming. So it got shut down as a racist topic for years.

In the ’80s and ’90s, the welfare reform debate had explicit language in the final federal law calling attention to the rise in nonmarital childbearing as a social problem. So it very much took this position that marriage was beneficial for kids. But during that debate, there were some really ugly, racialized stereotypes of the welfare queen. So I do think the racial element has made it particularly challenging to talk about.

BW: You write that you would speak to your fellow scholars about your plans for writing this book, and they would say things along the lines of, “I tend to agree about all of this, but are you sure you want to be out there saying this publicly?” How many areas of research, inquiry, and basic curiosity about the most important things in our lives and culture are third rail now? If it’s taboo to write a book saying two parents in a house are better materially than one, what else is off-limits, and what can we do to combat that?

MK: The University of Chicago Press published my book. It wasn’t an easy process. I got four reviews, and one of the reviewers basically told the Press, “You should not be publishing a book in 2023 that calls for a return to marriage.” So even at the Chicago Press, which you might think is the most committed to just telling the hard truths, it wasn’t a walk in the park to get this book past the reviewers. This worries me deeply as a scholar, as a teacher, as a researcher. It worries me deeply that there are right answers and there are wrong answers among academics.

There are clear pressures of what topics are valued, what topics people should pursue, what topics are going to get published in the best journals. I think that is really antithetical to what we should be doing as scholars. When my friends outside the academy ask, “Is it really as bad as people say?” I’m like, “Oh, it’s something that worries me deeply.”
 
I think a two parent families are a thing of the past, our generation has changed the norm, equal rights for women was probably the crux of the issue.
It is the one thing, that has probably brought about the biggest shift in what was considered normal, in living memory.
It also probably was the foundation for many society changing movements.
Equal rights for women and the affirmative action it kicked off, changed everything and we are still trying to cope with the change today.
Many things that men took for granted now are not, also many things women took for granted no longer are.
As with all changes, there are some gains and some losses, until equilibrium is found no one knows if the gains outweigh the losses.
That's evolution and we are far from being at the end, of the women's equality journey IMO.
 
Interesting SP. The article raised the question of 2 parent families. The fact that having 2 different people supporting each other in raising children enables better oitcomes. It could be 2 women, 2 men or the generally accepted man and women.

I don't think going back to a world where women were legally and socially treated as almost a different species to men is a particularly good idea. The Taliban, and very conservative places like Saudi Arabia and Iran are the current best examples of that approach. Do we want to there ?

The good old days perhaps ? Divorce made very difficult (unless your rich of course) ? Women economically tied to their husbands and having to put up with whatever happens to them ? The overarching problem is the current economics of our society make one income /2 adult households almost impossible to raise a family. You and I can remember an era when it was absolutely straightforward for a single income earner to support a family. You could buy a house relevant to your income. Live a life relevant to your income as a family. It might not be super flash if you were on the lower income levles but it was doable. That possibility is not available to (almost) anyone now on a wage of up to 80k a year with the current cost of housing or rent and general living costs.
 
Interesting SP. The article raised the question of 2 parent families. The fact that having 2 different people supporting each other in raising children enables better oitcomes. It could be 2 women, 2 men or the generally accepted man and women.

I don't think going back to a world where women were legally and socially treated as almost a different species to men is a particularly good idea. The Taliban, and very conservative places like Saudi Arabia and Iran are the current best examples of that approach. Do we want to there ?

The good old days perhaps ? Divorce made very difficult (unless your rich of course) ? Women economically tied to their husbands and having to put up with whatever happens to them ? The overarching problem is the current economics of our society make one income /2 adult households almost impossible to raise a family. You and I can remember an era when it was absolutely straightforward for a single income earner to support a family. You could buy a house relevant to your income. Live a life relevant to your income as a family. It might not be super flash if you were on the lower income levles but it was doable. That possibility is not available to (almost) anyone now on a wage of up to 80k a year with the current cost of housing or rent and general living costs.
That's exactly why I transfered our house to the daughter, she has two kids through IVF and has disabilities.
We are trying to give her as normal a life as possible, without our help she wouldnt have been able to have a family of her own.
It's such a joy being part of her journey, an amazing kid.
 
Nothing wrong with either. Of course you would prefer two parents. But a lot of those outliers come from a single parent dynamic.
Something about "the struggle" often pushes kids to strive harder and top their fields.

However I do often see bigger mental health problems in single parent raised kids.

Wasn't Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull both from single parent families?
 
Interestingly, single mums will pretty much remain single mums cos, welp, no normal guy wants to raise another guy's progeny. A scary percentage of women don't appreciate the important of choosing their mate correctly the first time. Sometimes in life there isn't a do-over.
 
Interestingly, single mums will pretty much remain single mums cos, welp, no normal guy wants to raise another guy's progeny. A scary percentage of women don't appreciate the important of choosing their mate correctly the first time. Sometimes in life there isn't a do-over.
Actually you would be surprised. There's a sea of no hope guys that are completely clueless.
 
Actually you would be surprised. There's a sea of no hope guys that are completely clueless.

Maybe so, but I think the tide is turning a bit - red pill takes are slowly coming more into the mainstream, less and less fringe.
 
Yeah forgot about Albo.
Not sure if Rudd,Tbull and Albo are the finest examples.
But the point was that they often work harder to make it to the top.
Well Airbus gave us chapter and verse for a long time about his upbringing. He is only one of so, so many.
 
i don't know about you guys, but the fact that HALF of American babies are born to unmarried mothers is a concerning statistic
 
i don't know about you guys, but the fact that HALF of American babies are born to unmarried mothers is a concerning statistic
Legal marriage does usually offer a few legal and tax type benefits, but maybe that won't add up to the cash splash on rings and wedding that many women expect. It can be pretty redundant if the couple is living together anyway. At least wait till the paternity test on the baby before popping the question - unless that kid is your SPITTING image :p
 
In this case it's a choice of irresponsible freedom vs unintended consequences.

There's only one thing worse than unmarried mothers having babies and that's unmarried mothers not having babies with the unintended consequence being a declining birth rate followed by a messed up culture due to forcibly increased migration. Australia is heading that way right now with stunning effect and America isn't far behind.
 
I read this story today and thought this was the thread to post it.
It explores the world of "Protonatalists" - families who wants to have as many children as possible to save the world.

Fascinating, confronting, intriguing. IMV well worth checking out.


America’s premier pronatalists on having ‘tons of kids’ to save the world: ‘There are going to be countries of old people starving to death’

Elon Musk (father of 11) supports their cause. Thousands follow their ideology. Malcolm and Simone Collins are on a mission to make it easier for everyone to have multiple children. But are they really model parents?
1716869349706.png

Jenny Kleeman
Sat 25 May 2024 16.00 AESTLast modified on Mon 27 May 2024 22.55 AEST


The Collinses didn’t tell me Simone was eight months pregnant when we were making plans for me to spend a Saturday with them at home in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, but I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. They are the poster children of the pronatalist movement, on a mission to save humanity by having as many babies as possible.

Malcolm, 37, answers the door of their 18th-century farmhouse with four-year-old Octavian George, who is thrilled to have a visitor, bringing toy after toy to show me like an overexcited golden retriever. His little brother, two-year-old Torsten Savage, is on his iPad somewhere upstairs. Simone, 36, in an apron that strains across her belly, has her daughter, 16-month-old Titan Invictus, strapped to her back. The imminent arrival of their fourth child, a girl they plan to name Industry Americus Collins, turns out to be only the first in a string of surprises – and one really shocking thing – that I will encounter during my day with the pronatalists.

We begin talking in Malcolm’s office, which is also the kids’ bedroom, with a desk and a stack of bunk beds three storeys high from floor to ceiling. “Children use the room at night, I use it during the day,” Malcolm shrugs. “Why have two separate rooms?” Simone and Malcolm work together – in separate rooms – as what Simone describes as “CEOs and non-profit entrepreneurs”: they acquire businesses with investor money that they improve and eventually sell “or turn into a cash cow”, as she puts it, ploughing their earnings into their charitable foundation, which encourages people to reproduce. They plan on having a minimum of seven children.


 
I read this story today and thought this was the thread to post it.
It explores the world of "Protonatalists" - families who wants to have as many children as possible to save the world.

Fascinating, confronting, intriguing. IMV well worth checking out.


America’s premier pronatalists on having ‘tons of kids’ to save the world: ‘There are going to be countries of old people starving to death’

Elon Musk (father of 11) supports their cause. Thousands follow their ideology. Malcolm and Simone Collins are on a mission to make it easier for everyone to have multiple children. But are they really model parents?
View attachment 177731
Jenny Kleeman
Sat 25 May 2024 16.00 AESTLast modified on Mon 27 May 2024 22.55 AEST


The Collinses didn’t tell me Simone was eight months pregnant when we were making plans for me to spend a Saturday with them at home in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, but I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. They are the poster children of the pronatalist movement, on a mission to save humanity by having as many babies as possible.

Malcolm, 37, answers the door of their 18th-century farmhouse with four-year-old Octavian George, who is thrilled to have a visitor, bringing toy after toy to show me like an overexcited golden retriever. His little brother, two-year-old Torsten Savage, is on his iPad somewhere upstairs. Simone, 36, in an apron that strains across her belly, has her daughter, 16-month-old Titan Invictus, strapped to her back. The imminent arrival of their fourth child, a girl they plan to name Industry Americus Collins, turns out to be only the first in a string of surprises – and one really shocking thing – that I will encounter during my day with the pronatalists.

We begin talking in Malcolm’s office, which is also the kids’ bedroom, with a desk and a stack of bunk beds three storeys high from floor to ceiling. “Children use the room at night, I use it during the day,” Malcolm shrugs. “Why have two separate rooms?” Simone and Malcolm work together – in separate rooms – as what Simone describes as “CEOs and non-profit entrepreneurs”: they acquire businesses with investor money that they improve and eventually sell “or turn into a cash cow”, as she puts it, ploughing their earnings into their charitable foundation, which encourages people to reproduce. They plan on having a minimum of seven children.


Haven't they heard of over population in the world today.
 
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