Monday, July 16, 2012

Lucia Marriage and inequality

An interesting article in the New York Times that articulates the major differences between married couple families and single parent families that are contributing to increasing inequality. Children from married couple families are more likely to marry each other, and those from single parent families (mostly girls) are more likely to raise their own families by themselves.  This partnering between children raised similarly is what is becoming the largest barrier to upward mobility.

But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

“It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

I have told both my sons that their best bet in choosing a spouse is making sure the girl comes from an intact family. That way she would have seen her parents stick it out together through thick and thin and therefore be more likely to be able to do the same herself.

In my experience and in my wider family, most of those family members who came from divorced households have failed miserably in their marriages. By the time is has got to the third generation (ie the grandchild of the original divorced parent who herself was raised by a divorced parent), it's been a 100% marriage failure rate.

While many children of single mothers flourish (two of the last three presidents had mothers who were single during part of their childhood), a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.

John Key was likewise raised by a single mother. However, wider New Zealand society modelled the married couple ideal at the time he was growing up. It doesn't seem to any more with an increasing number of people thinking of marriage as just a piece of paper. I know I thought that way more than twenty years ago even though it's changed now!

Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’ ~ New York Times

4 comment(s):

Grant Michael McKenna said...

John Key's father died- his parents weren't divorced. His mother apparently spoke about both his father's life experience and alcoholism to him as he grew up; part of his concern about PTSD in war veterans is derived from this.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Grant,

Thanks for that. I didn't make it clear that his parents weren't divorced, though I can see why it looks like I may have implied it.

jonno1 said...

That's an interesting thought about modelling. One of our daughters-in-law came from a broken home, although she became a Christian before marrying our son. She later told us that we had modelled Christian marriage to her, much to our surprise!

But modelling can work both ways. One of her parents had remarried, the other had repartnered but not married. Not too long after her marriage, that couple became Christians and married. Now she has an extended family including half- and step-siblings, plus two children of her own. And all six grand-parents are good friends too!

Oh, and on the economic front, this couple, now in their thirties, are extremely well-off (largely due to our son's career choice and skills) but place far greater store in their family and Christian walk.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Jonno,

Yes, I totally agree, modelling can work both ways, and we cannot consider people lost forever if they grow up in a bad family situation - there's always the Grace of God that can guide them, as well as good people around them that they can learn from.

Your daughter-in-law sounds wonderful, especially since she's recognised within you and your wife qualities that she was inspired by!

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