As though you needed a new study to prove it … but marriage is good for children.
The Washington Post reports:
We know that children raised by two parents tend to be more successful — at school, in the future labor market, in their own marriages — than children raised by a single mom or dad. And from this fact, it might seem easy to conclude that marriage wields some outsized power over a child's life — that its absence creates unstable homes and chaotic families, while its presence nurtures them.
One hates to evoke Occam’s razor, but sometimes the simplest explanation is the truest.
Unfortunately, the scholars at the left-leaning Brookings Institute do not find the explanation satisfactory. They are looking for a public policy solution to America’s social problems and they do not want to admit that improved personal behavior is the only way to solve the problem of broken homes and out-of-wedlock births.
The Post explains:
Making single parents get married, in other words, won't fundamentally change the other characteristics about them that really drive their children's success. The good news in this is that family income and parenting skills are more realistically addressed through public policy than marriage anyway.
Whoever had the idea that we need to make people to do anything, anyway? One wonders why the authors of the study do not propose to “nudge” people in the direction of marriage and nudge them away from divorce and out-of-wedlock births.
Have the behavioral economists, the ones who gave us Obamacare, set their minds to this problem?
Besides, how much nudging occurs when people read that a stable parental marriage is not really very important when it comes to bringing up children?
When marriage is systematically disparaged and demeaned, mightn’t that contribute to the problem, by nudging people toward reckless behaviors and socially dysfunctional living arrangements?
If we ask ask which citizens are most susceptible to these messages, it appears that their purveyors are less influenced than are those of lower educational and socioeconomic background.
It is probably true that more income is better than less, but how is government intervention going to accomplish this? Has the Obama administration implemented policies that have caused family income to increase for the average citizen?
And besides, how will a policy solution enhance parenting skills?
If the government is going to involve itself in parenting, what makes you think that this will not discourage parents from doing a better job. Isn’t it demoralizing when the government declares you to be incompetent?
The Brookings study raises the old correlation/causation problem.
People who are married do tend to earn more, but this might be because they work harder because they have a more developed sense of their responsibility toward family.
The study recognizes the point:
Today, better-educated, higher-income adults are much more likely to marry. That means their children benefit from the marriage, and the income, and the education of their parents. Howard and Reeves also point out that the same skills that make marriages work (like commitment and patience) also come handy for good parenting. And so perhaps it's not that children are better off when their parents marry — it's that the qualities that enable successful marriages also make good parents.
But, was it always true that poorer citizens had less functional marriages? Was it always true that these citizens always had broken homes or non-homes?
How many of the problems that exist in some communities derive from too much free love. When a single mother is bringing up four children, each of whom has a different father, none of whose fathers are present in the household… isn’t this a formula for anomie?
How can such children know where they belong or whether they belong? Children whose family relationships are chaotic, even anarchic are not going to have a very good chance in life.
One fails to see how the problem will be solved by absolving parents of all responsibility for the upbringing they are or not providing for their children?
We cannot make all underprivileged children wards of the state, can we?