The cultural question - that in the post-modern age marriage is passe and single parenthood acceptable - is an interesting one. Having children outside of wedlock clearly does not have the stigma that it did fifty years ago, but the argument that children in fragile families increases social stratification and disparity between the poor and non-poor is one that could gain traction. In essence, how do we talk about the culture of non-marriage and the culture of inequality - and what's the right tack to take in alleviating child poverty, like creating structural conditions that make child-rearing (no matter what kind of family a child is born into) more friendly through policies informed by best practice that are sound investments and make sense in the short and long-term.
The moral of the story throughout all the various narratives - including the references below - is that children born to single parents face many more difficulties in life because of the precariousness that accompanies single parenthood, most importantly poverty.
Among the references included in the article are:
- Fragile Families @ Princeton University. They have been studying 5,000 families over 10 years, tracking the families - nearly 3/4 of whom are children born to single parents.
- Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age by Kay Hymowitz who writes about the chief source of inequality in America being the marriage gap.
- Isabell Sawhill's Congressional testimony on non-marital births and child poverty.
- And this that we all read several weeks ago: Poverty in early childhood poisons the brain, the American Associationfor the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston heard on Friday.
- Finally - and this reference was not in the article but it's relevant - the State of Our Unions 2007.