Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marriage, and When Liberals Are Wrong

"A large amount of other research suggests that [family structure] also drives economic outcomes."

David Leonhardt is the managing editor of a new venture at The New York Times that focuses on politics, policy, and economics. It features analytical journalism, with an emphasis on data and graphics.

 One of today’s more intriguing social-science debates is whether changes in family structure have helped cause the rise in economic inequality — or are merely an effect of that rising inequality.

 I’ll have to generalize here a little bit, but in broad terms many liberals have argued that economic factors are the ultimate cause of family changes. Marriage has declined among lower-income Americans, according to this argument, because they are no longer able to find the sort of steady, good-paying work that allows for stable families. Among college graduates, on the other hand, marriages have actually become more stable — with divorce on the decline — because they’re still doing O.K. economically.

Conservatives instead tend to see family structure as a cause and inequality as an effect: The rise of single-parent families has caused economic hardships for many people in those families. If the country could find a way to promote stable marriages, across social classes, inequality would be lower than it otherwise is.

Read complete article here