Monday, June 04, 2007

The Frayed Knot

This article is probably one of the most interesting that I've read in a while. It talks about the impact of socioeconomics (and education) on marriage and family life. This statistic just totally saddens me:

"Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were. At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%.

While it's good to hear that in some circles, the divorce rate has dropped and people are taking the notion of marriage more seriously, it's shocking to me how high the divorce rate and out-of-wedlock birth rates are. Granted, I don't always think a couple needs to be married to have a child as long as they are both present and completely commited - that's the liberal coming out in me - but I'd guess in these statistical cases, that this is NOT the case and generally a single parenthood scenario. And based on that information, it makes this statistic even more difficult to swallow:

"Middle-class kids growing up with two biological parents are “socialised for success”. They do better in school, get better jobs and go on to create intact families of their own. Children of single parents or broken families do worse in school, get worse jobs and go on to have children out of wedlock. This makes it more likely that those born near the top or the bottom will stay where they started. America, argues Ms Hymowitz, is turning into “a nation of separate and unequal families”. "

So based on this, it's a case in our country of the "poor getting poorer." Makes you realize how difficult it is in this country to make something of yourself when you've got a lot of odds against you from birth. Almost like a caste system, if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that all younger couples getting married and/or of a lower socioeconomic status are destined to fail, but with those kind of odds stacked up against them, you can understand how hard it has to be. And obviously, throwing money at the situation isn't a fix since there is an entire culture that would need to be changed. It makes you realize how HUGE the socieoeconomic problems are in this country right now and how they only look to get worse and continue to seperate the "haves" from the "have nots."

And finally, why in a country where a government is supposedly so much in support of couples being married and committed to one another, an entire population is unable to marry? If being married is healthier for the couple and for the children, you'd think gay marriage would be allowed. Of course, that's not the point of the article, but just a thought I had.

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