As most people know, there is a common narrative suggesting that single-parent households can be a cause of many problems affecting children — in and out of school.
I’ve previously posted some articles questioning that view, and a new study has just been published. I thought it would be worthwhile to put them all in one post:
Marriage Promotion Has Failed to Stem Poverty Among Single Moms has just been published at Science Daily. Here’s an excerpt:
In fact, research shows that single mothers living in impoverished neighborhoods are likely to marry men who won’t help them get out of poverty. These men are likely to have children from other partnerships, lack a high school diploma, and have been incarcerated or have substance abuse problems, Williams noted.
Those who do marry usually don’t stay that way. One study found that nearly two-thirds of single mothers who married were divorced by the time they reached 44 years old.
“Single mothers who marry and later divorce are worse off economically than single mothers who never marry,” she said.
Promoting marriage among single mothers may not help their children, either. Recent research by Williams and several colleagues found no physical or psychological advantages for the majority of teenagers born to a single mother who later married.
Rather than promoting marriage, the government should focus on preventing unintended births, Williams said. She found in one study that having a child outside of marriage is associated with negative mental health outcomes among African American women only when the birth was unexpected.
Here are other articles:
What Makes a Healthy Family is an article at the Pacific Standard. Here’s an excerpt:
Lamb explains that, despite their high rates of poverty, “the majority of children raised in single-parent or divorced families are well-adjusted,” even if outcomes are slightly more negative overall than for kids raised in “traditional” families. It’s an open question whether it’s the money or the family structure itself holding back that minority of children of single parents that turn out maladjusted.
Single Parents Aren’t The Problem: Show Me the Numbers: Who’s at home doesn’t affect a child’s education as much as you may think is one of the more interesting article I think you’re going to see onthis topic. It’s written by Professor Ivory A. Toldson and appeared in “The Root.”
Blaming Poverty on Single Parents Is Win-Win for Republicans, Evidence Be Damned is an extensive Atlantic article.
It’s a must-read piece. Here’s an excerpt:
And is where everyone should be screaming from the rooftops: “Correlation isn’t causation!” If you don’t have access to a roof, stand on your desk like you’re in Dead Poet’s Society and bellow, “Just because poverty is more common among the unmarried doesn’t mean it’s a function of being unmarried!” Yell that. Yell that to the heavens!
The New York Times has now published an exceptional article titled Can Marriage Cure Poverty?
I think it’s a “must-read.” Here’s an excerpt:
But even if Washington got rid of all its dumb and ineffective policies to promote marriage and implemented a number of smart ones to do so, it might all be for naught. Some researchers think that marriage — or a lack thereof — is not the real problem facing poor parents; being poor is. “It isn’t that having a lasting and successful marriage is a cure for living in poverty,” says Kristi Williams of Ohio State University. “Living in poverty is a barrier to having a lasting and successful marriage.”
To understand why, it is worth looking at the economic fortunes of the poor in isolation — marriage rates and childbearing out of wedlock aside. Globalization, the decline of labor unions, technological change and other tidal economic forces have battered the poor, with years of economic growth failing to lift their prospects. These forces have inevitably affected young people’s choices, researchers think.
In an economy that offers so little promise to those at the bottom, family planning in the name of upward mobility doesn’t make much sense. “Engaging in family formation by accident rather than by design, you get a story of low-opportunity costs,” says Kathryn Edin, the poverty researcher at Johns Hopkins. “We’ve created the situation where pregnancy is not the worst thing that can happen to you. It can be seen as a path to redemption in an otherwise violent, unpredictable, hopeless world.”
Similar forces might also spur some young couples not to get married, even if they want to. Many poor women opt not to marry the poor men in their lives, for instance, to avoid bringing more economic chaos into their homes. And the poor women who do marry tend to have unstable marriages — often to ill effect. One study, for instance, found that single mothers who married and later divorced were worse off economically than those who did not marry at all. “These women revere marriage, they want to get married,” Williams says. “They aren’t making an irrational choice not to marry.”
Check out The relationship between single mothers and poverty is not as simple as it seems at The Washington Post.
You can see all my parent-related “Best” lists here.