View Full Version : An Rebuttal to the Link Between Single Parent Homes and Poverty

09-26-2011, 05:04 PM
http://www.alternet.org/economy/152512/6_ways_the_rich_are_waging_a_class_war_against_the _american_people/?page=entire

On Wednesday, the New York Yankees clinched the American League East title. On Thursday, it rained in New York. There is a correlation here, but only a fool would suggest that the Yanks' victory caused it to rain the following day.

Yet, the Heritage Foundation (it happens to be Robert Rector again) sees a lot of poor, single-parent households, and would have you believe that “the main causes of child poverty are low levels of parental work and the absence of fathers.”

This gets the causal relationship wrong. The number of single-parent households exploded between the 1970s and the 1990s – more than doubling -- yet the poverty rate remained relatively constant. In fact, before the crash of 2008, the poverty rate was lower than it had been in the 1970s. So, as the rate of single-parent households skyrocketed, poverty declined a little bit. Saying single-parent homes create poverty is therefore like claiming that the Yankees victory caused the sun to shine the next day.

As I noted recently, this is an essential piece of the “culture of poverty” narrative, and it is nonsense. Jean Hardisty, the author of Marriage as a Cure for Poverty: A Bogus Formula for Women, cited a number of studies showing that poor women have the same dreams as everyone else: they “often aspire to a romantic notion of marriage and family that features a white picket fence in the suburbs.” But low economic status leads to fewer marriages, not the other way around.

In 1998, the Fragile Families Study looked at 3,700 low-income unmarried couples in 20 U.S. cities. The authors found that 90 percent of the couples living together wanted to tie the knot, but only 15 percent had actually done so by the end of the one-year study period. And here’s the key finding: for every dollar that a man’s hourly wages increased, the odds that he’d get hitched by the end of the year rose by 5 percent. Men earning more than $25,000 during the year had twice the marriage rates of those making less than $25,000.

Writing up the findings for the Nation, Sharon Lerner noted that poverty itself “seems to make people feel less entitled to marry.” As one father in the survey put it, marriage means “not living from check to check.”

09-26-2011, 05:27 PM
Hmm...well that is interesting. I never really looked at poverty levels compared to single parent household rates. I think we can all agree that single parent households don't help matters. So if it's not single parent households being responsible, what is? Probably that the economy sucks right now, especially at the middle and lower ends of the spectrum.

Mister D
09-26-2011, 07:16 PM
So there is no link between a woman having children she can't afford and poverty?

09-27-2011, 08:44 AM
So there is no link between a woman having children she can't afford and poverty?


I'm sure there is.

Still if that data is correct it suggests that there is more going on. Looking back it does make sense that the single parent problem has been going on in this country a lot longer than the last few years. However I'm not convinced that the poverty rate in 2007 was at an all time low. I'll have to look into that elsewhere.

Mister D
09-27-2011, 09:04 AM

This is the article from Heritage.org mentioned in the piece.