Sunday, August 23, 2020

Strengthen America by Strengthening Families

Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters
The basic institution of every healthy society deserves legal and cultural support.
Among the many clear signs of the deterioration of American community and family life, one in particular stands out: Nearly half of all children will spend some time outside of an intact family by their late teens. As detailed in a recent report from the Joint Economic Committee’s Social Capital Project, The Demise of the Happy Two-Parent Home, family stability has steadily deteriorated over the past 50 years. The trends this report documents are especially troubling because it is often America’s most vulnerable who experience the greatest family instability today.
Research consistently finds that children raised in an intact family have more positive outcomes than children who are not. A healthy, married-parents home provides children with stability and consistent access to the two parents who gave them life, as well as to the resources those parents provide — financial and otherwise.
But marriage rates in the United States have declined, divorce has increased, and the share of children born outside of marriage has climbed. For example, between 1962 and 2019, the percentage of women ages 15 to 44 who were married dropped from 71 percent to 42 percent. Over roughly this same period, the number of women aged 50 to 54 who had ever divorced increased from 29 percent to 41 percent. Furthermore, the fraction of children born outside of marriage climbed from just 5 percent to a staggering 40 percent.
Trends in family stability are not the same across the board, however. There is a stark divide along economic lines. Highly educated Americans are far less likely to experience family instability than those with less education. For example, among mothers without a college degree, most births take place outside of marriage today, compared with just 20 percent of births among women with low or moderate education levels in 1970. In contrast, only about 10 percent of births to mothers with a college degree occur outside marriage today. Minorities are more likely to experience family breakdown as well.
The stark socioeconomic divides in family stability raise the question of whether economic causes are to blame for family decline. Many researchers argue that declining wages among working-class men since the 1970s have rendered such men less “marriageable.” But while the hourly wages of young men declined from the early 1970s through the mid-1990s, their wages have substantially increased since then, and yet this has not yielded increasing family stability. Moreover, the decline of family stability began prior to the 1970s, when the American economy was booming. And the United States has experienced far more severe economic downturns in earlier eras, such as the Great Depression, without substantial disruptions to family stability.
Read the rest from Sen. Mike Lee HERE.

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