Marry, Marry, Why Ya Buggin’?

The NY Times has a very interesting article this morning on the socioeconomics of women and child-bearing.  It states that evidence (that goes along with women having children later in life now) points to women under the age of 30 who do have children are now more likely to have them outside of marriage rather than in one.

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now this has some proclaiming that Charles Murray’s latest screed on the decline of White America is now “vindicated” along with conservative scolding of women in general, but it seems to me that the actual theory one can take away from this is anything but.

Having children as a single parent is tough on both the parent and the child.  There’s plenty of evidence that there is a definite socioeconomic effect here.  But please note that Republicans are running on removing the most obvious options societies can use in order to prevent that from becoming more widespread.

Republicans are increasingly against birth control.  Republicans are increasingly against same-sex marriage.  They are against adoption by same-sex couples.  They are against changing laws that would give the legal and economic benefits of marriage to same-sex couples and civil unions.  They are against changing deportation laws that would break up families.  They are against strengthening domestic violence and abuse laws.  They are against the notion that the government should ensure men and women are paid the same for the same job.  Oh, and yes, Republicans aren’t real fans of abortion, either.

So you tell me, which party actually wants to do something about the income inequality that’s caused by this?  All the evidence I see is that Republicans want to perpetuate this mess, if not completely reverse what progress has been made.

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44 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Not to mention paying a living wage.

    You know, Adam Smith figured all this out more than two centuries ago, and Henry Ford, of all people, knew about it too, but for some reason, our contemporary Galtian overlords don’t know about this.

  2. 2
    Seonachan says:

    Yes, shame on all these unwed mothers. Surely the fathers of their children are all chomping at the bit to tie the knot, if only these loose women would just say “I do”.

  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Oh they are quite aware of the economics. They just don’t care. Wealth and power are their only concerns, because who’s stopping them? They have no consequences even if they fail or break the law.

  4. 4
    DougJarvus Green-Ellis says:

    I am simply amazed that the Republicans are now opposing birth control. What the fuck?

  5. 5
    Brachiator says:

    But please note that Republicans are running on removing the most obvious options societies can use in order to prevent that from becoming more widespread.

    Uh, no. The point of the story is that more women are choosing to have children without marriage, or to keep children when they become pregnant, whatever the circumstances.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Not to mention paying a living wage.

    This gets interesting, since the tax code creates a perverse incentive here, and some liberals would seek to reinforce it. Would you pay a living wage based on household circumstance, rather than the job itself? That is, would you pay a woman with two kids more than a woman with no kids?

    The tax code will give the single mother an Earned Income Tax Credit based on the number of children she has (up three), a child tax credit for each child, and a refundable additional child tax credit even if all her tax liability is used up. In addition, she may be able to get a dependent care credit if she has to pay for daycare.

    But a worker with children (male or female) can lose some of these credits if he or she chooses to marry, especially if the spouse does not work.

    Also, in practical terms, a potential mate may not want to take on the burden of additional kids. Again, this tends to put women who choose to have children outside of marriage at a disadvantage. Of course, they may be at an equal disadvantage if they marry, have kids and get divorced.

    However, no wishful thinking or handwringing by boneheads like Charles Murray or Rick Santorum or any other conservative nitwits provides any easy answer to these dilemmas.

  6. 6
    Mark-NC says:

    In general – The Repugnant Ones are against ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, that helps ANYBODY.

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    However, no wishful thinking or handwringing by boneheads like Charles Murray or Rick Santorum or any other conservative nitwits provides any easy answer to these dilemmas.

    Oh, I think you’re giving them too much credit.

    They haven’t thought any of this shit out at all.

  8. 8
    Evergreen (formerly Betsy, forever ago) says:

    The article highlights research about the negative consequences for children, but two questions are raised for me.

    A) Are those less-desirable outcomes due to the unwed status, or are unwed parenting and negative consequences for the children BOTH the result of other factors such as the lack of stable work at a liveable income?

    B) If there are still negative consequences once you control for other factors, will those diminish as single motherhood is normalized?

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yutsano:

    Well, the thing is, they’re all about the short term killing and fuck whatever happens in the next fiscal quarter.

    Reading The Wealth of Nations, you get the distinct impression that Adam Smith would not give the time of day to an MBA.

  10. 10
    JPL says:

    The NYTimes article that highlighted Lorain, Ohio mentioned one man who had fathered nine children with six wives. There are some cases where education is to blame. Family planning is not a sin. Sometimes a few snips here and there might help.

  11. 11
    WereBear says:

    I once read an excellent analysis that put babies outside of marriage into a different perspective for me: and explained its low income roots.

    Two college grads, at least in better times, could plan a family with every expectation that they could come up with the resources needed. But lower income women have to fall back on the “family.” Often, exclusively, their own.

    If Grandma wants grandchildren she’ll pitch in; and it’s easier, and better, to ditch a “broken” husband and forge on without him than the previous generations’ plan of putting up with it. That only benefits the loser “father.” And creates, and perpetuates, a cycle of abuse.

  12. 12
    Bruce S says:

    Any party that wants to expand and accelerate the dynamics of unbridled capitalism doesn’t give a shit about anything that could be considered family values or community values – or the values at the core of the major religions, for that matter. This current GOP crap isn’t about “conservatism” that conserves anything other than some retrograde cultural notions that are disconnected from anything resembling analytical competence or empirical reality. So called “conservatism” isn’t about helping ordinary people cope with change and avoiding social and economic chaos (like the devastation of long-term unemployment) – it’s about conserving power for a few and “letting their good times roll.”

  13. 13
    elm says:

    @DougJarvus Green-Ellis:

    I am simply amazed that the Republicans are now opposing birth control. What the fuck?

    It seems like a sure political loser to me, but it’s been in the works for a while. Bush Jr’s Abstinence-Only Education project was more about anti-birth control propaganda than education and fringe groups have falsely claimed that IUDs and hormonal birth control are equivalent to abortion.

    It’s also impossible to imagine overturning Roe. v. Wade without also overturning Griswold v. Connecticut, though in the past most of the right-wing had the sense to keep quiet about that.

  14. 14
    Bruce S says:

    “I am simply amazed that the Republicans are now opposing birth control. What the fuck?”

    From what I read here it’s part of their deep aversion to prostate cancer…which is a major threat to old men.

  15. 15
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Oh, I think you’re giving them too much credit.

    To the contrary, charlatans like Murray have been thinking about this for years, and keep flogging the same psycho sociological beast. It would be tiresome if it weren’t so predictable. Worse, Santorum is pitching an even more pernicious version of this nonsense as part of his presidential campaign. And so, it’s not just a call to supposedly conservative political values, but a call to a phony moral crusade to save women (and children) from themselves and libruls.

  16. 16
    Mike G says:

    This is Republicanism in a nutshell — create or exacerbate a problem through ideological magical thinking, while delusionally insisting that they are fixing it, then complain about the inevitable poor result and blame it on liberals. Unwed births, budget deficits, disastrous foreign occupations, it’s all the same dynamic.

  17. 17
    Zandar says:

    @Brachiator:

    What I meant by that was that Republicans want to remove the options, leaving what, forced birth?

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    Oh, they have thought a great deal. They just haven’t thought it out. Frum demonstrated that on Murray’s latest idiocy.

    Their “thinking” is frankly a bunch of mental masturbation. Oh, it provides you with a release, and it’s with someone you love, but it’s missing a huge chunk of a much better experience.

    I think nothing else illustrates this more than how contemporary “conservatives” seem to absolutely loathe conservation.

  19. 19
    Pavonis says:

    I think the declining marriage rate may be caused by our culture not keeping pace with economic changes. Many men still expect to be the breadwinner – and don’t expect to do most of the chores. Many women also expect to marry men of higher social status. Sorry if this is a over-generalization, but our social mores will have to adapt as women become better educated and better paid compared to men.

  20. 20
    nellcote says:

    Alt headline:

    For Women Men Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

  21. 21
    Brachiator says:

    @Zandar:

    What I meant by that was that Republicans want to remove the options, leaving what, forced birth?

    Obviously, Republicans are for forced birth. They embrace the idea that fear, social stigma, and punishment might force a woman into choosing their idea of the correct outcome.

    Everything you present as an option, conservatives see as immoral and contrary to the natural order.

  22. 22
    WereBear says:

    @Zandar: What I meant by that was that Republicans want to remove the options, leaving what, forced birth?

    Got it in one! These are the people who came up with Quiverfull, don’t forget.

    They get the thrill of power to get their little weenies hard, the wimmins are too dependent and worn out to make much trouble, and they get lots of small helpless beings to terrorize, torment, and exploit.

    Every Man a (Bad) King!

  23. 23
    Evergreen (formerly Betsy, forever ago) says:

    @nellcote: Bingo. Funny how it never crossed a single person’s mind (or a married one’s! /rimshot) at the NYT to use that framework.

  24. 24
    Kyle says:

    @Brachiator:

    Obviously, Republicans are for forced birth. They embrace the idea that fear, social stigma, and punishment might force a woman into choosing their idea of the correct outcome.

    Which then leaves lots of opportunities for the bossiness, judgementalism and looking down on others that their fear-and-punishment-oriented culture lives for. Authoritarian followers crave putting people into slots below themselves on the kiss-up-kick-down heirarchy.

  25. 25
    Gretchen says:

    Another: every chance they get, they cut student aid, pell grants, education funding, and then wonder “why are all these lazy slackers dropping out without a degree?” I was able to earn enough from my summer jobs in the early 70’s to pay the tuition to my competitive State U., which is now prohibitively expensive. They’ve cut state taxes, so there’s no money to support State U. My daughters graduated recently with $17,000 in college debt apiece, despite substantial help from me. They have friends who are in for over $50,000, and their friend the medical student is looking at a quarter-million dollar in debt when she starts her life at 26. Why don’t kids go to college and get married like we did back in the day?

  26. 26
    Svensker says:

    Just had a FB conversation with a cousin’s friend, about the bogus story on the crazed government nanny who stole the poor kid’s turkey sandwich at school and forced her to eat McNuggets. When I linked to the article at LOOG debunking it, he said:

    “The point is, poor kids should not be getting food from the government, they should get it from their parents, otherwise they’ll just grow up to be dependent on the government for everything…and if they don’t like it, a little hide tanning usually fixes everything anyway, we can all agree on that.”

    He is, of course, a Palin supporter. She of the non-high school diploma family, unwed moms, and meth-addled in-laws. You know, a good God-fearing productive real murkin family, unlike those lazy blah moochers.

  27. 27
    Petorado says:

    To riff off of John Kenneth Galbraith’s take that conservatism is “the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness,” morality is the tool conservatives use to protect and enhance their own selfishness.

    Any social problem, in their eyes, can be solved by simply talking it away by claiming that if only “those people” were more moral, the problem would go away. It’s the cheapest, most selfish solution for a conservative to take, negating any need for their financial participation in fixing things. Just like with markets, invisible hands of morality will magically take care of any societal messiness.

    Throw in some punitive actions for the joy of being mean and some tax break for their own purported good behavior, and that’s the modern conservative in a nutshell.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    @Svensker: Let me guess. He says things like, “I was beat up by my old man, and I turned out fine!”

  29. 29
    Constance Reader says:

    I’m sorry, but where exactly does the article say that these are single mothers? “Unmarried” does not necessarily mean “single”. Do these statistics in any way take into account how many of these children were born into committed relationships? Many heterosexual couples choose to forego legal marriage for a variety of valid reasons, and only 7 states have legalized same-sex marriage as of this writing.

  30. 30
    JoyfulA says:

    I wonder how many of these 20-something unwed mothers are like a family friend, who became pregnant at 20 with two years of college to go. If she’d married ASAP, she and the father would be stuck in their low-wage, no-benefit jobs for the foreseeable future and deep in debt to the obstetrician and the hospital.

    So she stayed single, kept taking college courses, and remained on her parents’ health insurance. When the father graduated and found a job with benefits, they got married, and the toddler was the chief attendant at their lavish wedding.

    It isn’t the way things went when I was her age, but—

  31. 31
    Svensker says:

    @WereBear:

    Let me guess. He says things like, “I was beat up by my old man, and I turned out fine!”

    He actually said that exact thing.

  32. 32
    WereBear says:

    @Svensker: You can use my response:

    “Yes, you were. And no, you didn’t.”

  33. 33
    SW says:

    Marriage sucks for at least one of the parties involved unless you can afford it or if it is an bargain between two equals. These conditions are becoming increasingly rare unless you are gay or wealthy or both.

  34. 34
    satby says:

    I’ve been to 4 baby showers in the last year for relatives or children of friends, and only one was for an expectant married couple (my foster son and his wife). I think the lack of a future to plan for is part of what drives this: all of these kids were in committed relationships and so far are together raising the babies, but none of them can look forward to the kind of middle class life their parents were able to achieve.

    Now the distinction is why these kids are dropping the birth control that I know they all had to be using because they all were sexually active teens and yet no one got pregnant until their mid-20s. I’m not too sure the answer is a positive sign for the future of the family in this country unless we strengthen the safety net. Because I was a single (divorced) mom and it was so difficult and so unfair to my kids that I hope no one ever has to go through what we did.

  35. 35
    Martin says:

    Well, I have a few of these case as neighbors, and here’s what I’ve worked out:

    Previously, having a kid under 20 out of wedlock was usually the result of a mistake. But having a kid under 30 out of wedlock is quite often a choice – mom and dad plus one income provide a financial stability that a two income under 30 couple can no longer match.

    These aren’t mistakes. They’re not due to a lack of access to birth control or abortion. It’s because young people can’t buy a house, can’t get a job or can’t get a job that they believe will ever lead to a house or long term financial stability. How long are people supposed to wait to start their families to achieve financial stability? 40? Biologically that’s really getting on too late. So the best option for a young woman with a decent but not great job who wants a kid is often to skip the husband, have the kid, and live with mom and dad who have already achieved the financial stability.

    Once again, less income inequality will fix this. If Republicans want lower entitlement costs, raise wages. If they want more of the country paying income tax, raise wages. If they want fewer single moms, raise wages. Not rocket science, guys.

  36. 36
    scav says:

    OK, today I’m drinking after avoiding it for a monthdothalf. I’ve now got friends who are pondering how to prove the case that all children must be raised in two-birth-parent households and think that re-framing it as the best way of maintaining social capital solves all objections to the practice. Yea! you pudgy meat-space mobile containers of gonads! Submit to statistical norms and the dictates of theorized Capital!

  37. 37
    BDeevDad says:

    Question for these “Religious Freedom” advocates. Since the Catholic Church does not believe in divorce, doesn’t that they should be allowed the “right” to deny coverage to second spouses?

  38. 38
    WereBear says:

    @Martin: So the best option for a young woman with a decent but not great job who wants a kid is often to skip the husband, have the kid, and live with mom and dad who have already achieved the financial stability.

    Precisely. But that state of affairs is not available to the generation after that. Right now, families are running on the good middle class of the past, like my husband’s parents, or already plundered of resources, like my own. If I had a kid, and they came to me needing help, I could not give it to them. It’s all I can do to keep my own body and soul together right now.

  39. 39
    scav says:

    @BDeevDad: Moreover, aren’t they threatened and offended by the government’s recognition of those unsanctified second marriages and subsidy with your precious fungible tax dollars every year in April? Shouldn’t all those children be called the bastards they so indubitably are and furthermore recognized in the census as not being raised in the socially-desirable conditions of married households?

  40. 40

    Republicans are fine with income inequality because it proves that they are superior to the rabble.

  41. 41
    Mjaum says:

    The point is to punish the “deviant”. Of course, most republicans these days spell that “different”, with some shortening it to “not me”.

    It’s a hell of a way to run a country.

  42. 42
    Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937 says:

    I saw this movie on Netflix: Winter’s Bone
    “Resilient teen Ree Dolly goes on the trail of her missing, drug-dealing father when his absence at a court hearing jeopardizes the family’s safety.”

    The society she exists in is violent and misogynistic – more so than I have ever encountered. Poor, rural Appalachia type society where family membership determines your status. Every woman she meets is obviously abused in violent ways. This is the Republican ideal. Its a disturbing film.

  43. 43
    satby says:

    @WereBear:

    Right now, families are running on the good middle class of the past, like my husband’s parents, or already plundered of resources, like my own. If I had a kid, and they came to me needing help, I could not give it to them. It’s all I can do to keep my own body and soul together right now.

    Exactly. I couldn’t either to any meaningful extent, because I was a divorced mom with a deadbeat ex; and now 5 years away from retirement I’m still paying for all the years of overwhelming debt. So I may be able to keep myself housed modestly, but it’ll be 1933 all over again if something happens to them and they need to move in with me. I have friends where the kids are living with them, and plunging middle-class middle age parents back into poverty with the demands to feed a growing family instead of an empty nest.

  44. 44
    aspasia says:

    JPL @10 is on to something. In the rural area where I live, men are serial partners. They live with a woman for awhile, pressure her her to have kids, then get bored and move on, usually telling themselves and anyone within listening distance that “she” wanted the kids. It’s hard to find a job that pays well enough to include a babysitter’s wages, so mom moves in with her parents, if she is lucky enough to have relatives close by.

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