In search for inequality’s roots, don’t forget to look at home

Here are two trends that should, but probably won’t, set off alarm bells at the headquarters of the “inequality police”:

1) Some 27 percent of American children last year lived apart from their fathers, compared to just 11 percent a half-century earlier.

2) At the same time, those dads who do live with their children are spending much more time actively caring for them each week than in decades past: almost an hour a day, compared to just 20 minutes a day through most of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

These twin trends headlined a new report, “A Tale of Two Fathers,” by the Pew Research Center. And if you embrace the numerous studies indicating brighter prospects for children who grow up in two-parent homes, you ought to find Pew’s pair of data points very troubling.

(By the way, it’s not just dads, in an intact family, who spend more time with their kids. Pew also found married mothers are spending more time caring for their kids now than any time since at least 1965.)

As we recover (slowly) from the Great Recession, we hear a great deal more about other, more immediate factors driving near-term inequality. And there certainly is much on this front to worry anyone, from the Americans whose skill sets don’t match the requirements of those jobs that are opening up, to those whose employment prospects cruelly grow even dimmer the longer they remain out of work.

Household income is a factor in children’s educational attainment and thus their own future job prospects. The unemployment that remains stubbornly high for today’s adults — costing them wages now and the compounding effect of potential wage gains in the years to come — could well have ripple effects for their children for a very long time.

But I expect the parenting disparity revealed in the Pew study to have a comparable, if less remarked-upon, effect.

It doesn’t help that the same men who are worst-positioned coming out of the recession — those with only a high school education or less, those toward the bottom of the earnings scale (if that’s not repetitive) and racial/ethnic minorities — are the most likely to live apart from their children:

  • Black men are twice as likely as white men, and Hispanic men one and a half times as likely, not to live in the same house as their children.
  • High school dropouts are almost six times as likely as college graduates to live apart from their kids. That rate was only somewhat better for men who did earn their high school diploma but did not continue their educations.
  • Men who earned less than $50,000 a year were almost three times as likely as men who earn more than that amount to live separate from their children.

And only half of those dads saw their kids more than once a month — although they were much more likely to call or email their kids monthly or even several times a week.

Government has only encouraged these trends toward dad-lessness. The rise in single-parent families coincides with the beginning of the welfare state, aka President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and there’s some evidence the trend has slowed since the welfare reforms of the 1990s.

Yet, the absence of one’s father leaves a “hole in a child’s life that no government can fill.”

So said President Barack Obama. And on that, at least, he and I agree.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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131 comments Add your comment

Mad as Zell

June 24th, 2011
7:04 pm

That’s a very good article you wrote Kyle and I agree with you and President Obama. If we are finding something we all agree on, it must be right.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

June 24th, 2011
7:20 pm

You failed greatly at making your point about “inequality”. In fact, I’m not sure WHAT your point is.

a reader

June 24th, 2011
9:40 pm

i was looking for some place to unload my latest revelations re ayn rand being a woman and a fiction writer and educated and this is where i ended up….

Question Man

June 24th, 2011
9:56 pm

Kyle: So is the question what should be done to address the problems? What are your suggested prescriptions?

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 24th, 2011
10:37 pm

The answer is to stop subsidizing failure. The government pays to make dads go away. Libtards want the government to pay MORE to make dads go away.

Libtards: Mentally retarded.

Itsmeagain

June 24th, 2011
11:49 pm

I have no idea what point you are trying to make… That food stamps and other welfare makes fathers not live with there children? That was beyond a leap, it’s pulling a conclusion out of thin air.

Itsmeagain

June 24th, 2011
11:51 pm

@lilbarrybailout – ok, take away welfare. Fathers still won’t live with the kids if they don’t want to. My dad doesn’t love me because he knows he’d get nothing if he didn’t, he just loves me.

Pat

June 24th, 2011
11:56 pm

Oh Kyle, you silly rabbit. The reason your revelations about the root causes (gee, I thought conservatives didn’t like “RC” rationalizations) don’t set off sirens for progressives is this:
It’s not exactly a revelation. Our reaction would be more along the lines of
“duh,” or “no sh_t, Sherlock.”
The problem isn’t that we dumb liberals don’t get that too many sorry men impregnate women without marrying or supporting them. Our question is this: So what should we do about this?
Just keep demanding that men without any sense of responsibility suddenly, magically grow one, all the while, continuing to race to the bottom in every conceivable arena? Or actually try to mitigate some of the problems?

Are we arrogant enough to believe government can fix this and make up for the catastrophic effects of broken dysfunctional families? NO. We just don’t think that’s a good enough excuse to sit by and let the next generation of kids go to hell in a handbasket.

If we applied right-wing ideology to practicing medicine, we’d just let anyone who gets cancer die without treatment, on the grounds that “we’ve tried cancer treatment programs, and they just don’t work. Worse, the cancer patients seem to NEED those treatments and become dependent on them. What’s more, most of these cancers are the patients’ fault anyway – they smoked, used tanning beds, ate red meat, etc., so no more throwing away good money treating cancer.”
What a steaming crock.

We have a broken society, and these damaged children coming from it are going to either get some interventions, or take America down the crapper.. Are we – as individuals yes, but also as a people – going to try to do something to help mitigate this disaster, or just trot out ideologies that make us feel smug and self-righteous about NOT trying?
The gates in those gated country club communities only go so high, folks.

that's goofy

June 25th, 2011
12:16 am

Took a year off to stay with That’s Goofy Jr. Best year of my life.

Legend of Len Barker

June 25th, 2011
1:31 am

One suggested solution:

Ramp up sex education in schools. None of this ‘abstinence only’ bull and options for parents to exclude their children from the lessons. The more educated kids are about babies and babymaking, the less likely they are to actually get pregnant.

Heck, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom are better educational tools than what most schools – particularly rural ones – are offering these days.

Michael H. Smith

June 25th, 2011
2:22 am

How dare you Kyle, you should know better by now than to infer in the least manner of speaking that LBJ’s Great Society (let alone any government solution) contributed to the very problems it was meant to fix.

How long is it going to take for these liberal socialists to convince you of just how wrong you are about their “fix-it-all nanny state government”, Kyle?

captguitarman

June 25th, 2011
2:49 am

Uncle Sam walked in the front door when the “Great Society” began, and Dad ran out the back door, and it has ever been thus. The American black family survived slavery (even with family members being sold off – a deplorable, immoral, and horrible practice), and it survived the 20’s, 30’s, and the Jim Crow laws of the 40’s and 50’s. But, it could not survive the Great Society and its successors. Beware of wolves in sheeps’ clothing — but that is a Biblical concept and not appropriate in the Dem/liberal mind, or its modern day “slaves” (securely in the pockets of the Dems), who occupy and run the Great Federal “Plantation.” But, black Americans still haven’t figured that one out yet. I think that one day day they will. Unfortunately we have reached a point, or we are very close to it, where changes, if they come, will not matter becaause black American families have almost 80% of their children now being born to unmarried parents. Poverty is no excuse. Just ask the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, Slavic peoples, and even the poor hillbillies, and many others who migrated here early in the last century. They all had very little, and they were horribly mistreated and discriminated against . . . but they had their families, and that made all the difference.

Ayn Rant

June 25th, 2011
6:48 am

I’m not at all sure that “Dad at home” is the solution to the problems of poverty and hopelessness in America, and I’m quite sure government didn’t cause it by extending meager financial aid to impoverished families.

Why don’t we do something more useful than whining about “them”? Just take a look at the neighborhoods “they” live in, and the schools their children attend, or drop out from. Can’t we clean up some of the crime in the blighted neighborhoods? Can’t we provide at least a mainstream, mediocre American education to their children? Has anyone offered training and assistance, and good day care, to poor, uneducated parents?

Does anyone really give a damn, except to cite poor, ignorant people as an example of the evils of financial assistance and the need for a libertarian society in which the clever and the fortunate inherit the earth, and the poor starve?

No More Progressives!

June 25th, 2011
6:48 am

“But, black Americans still haven’t figured that one out yet.”

And excellent point. And why should they figure it out? When you can drive around in an Escalade and the Gub’mint send you a check simply because you filled out a form, why invest anything?

Jefferson

June 25th, 2011
6:50 am

You speak of the hardships for single families with little education, but today’s US can also be very rocky for those with liberal arts college degrees who find themselves between jobs. More troubling than that is the idea that nobody would need help and that it is bad, as some posters write. For those, remember what goes around comes around.

DeborahinAthens

June 25th, 2011
7:10 am

Kyle, you and I, for once, agree! I do volunteer work with people living in poverty and the mind set of these dead-beat dads (mostly black–sorry, that is a fact) is beyond my comprehension. These young teen mothers frequently have multiple children with different fathers. The fathers and the fathers’ families frequently threaten violence if the woman names the father on the birth certificate because the governments in various states have toughened dead-beat dad laws and they don’t want to be on the hook. I once overheard two black guys laughing about “celebrating” “mother’s day”. When I asked them what they meant, since we were no where near Mother’s Day, they told me that mother’s day was when they went around and collected government checks from the mothers of their illegitimate children. If the women protest, they beat the crap out of them. The way to solve the problem? You are going to have to change the way these people value life. You are going to have to make them value education. It will take generations.You have to teach women to value their bodies and give them easy access to affordable birth control. Again, that will take generations. We have to stop making it okay to have illegitimate children. Movies like “Juno” and TV shows like “Pregnant at Sixteen” make these young girls think that if they too get pregnant they are special. They are too ignorant to understand that a baby is forever and the costs to raise a child is enormous.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 25th, 2011
7:12 am

Jefferson: what goes around comes around.
————————

The last hope of a loser–that somehow they’ll “get even” with folks who are doing better than they.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 25th, 2011
7:33 am

Itsmeagain: Fathers still won’t live with the kids if they don’t want to.
——————————-

Potential mothers won’t be spreading ‘em so much if they know they won’t be getting a check.

Ken

June 25th, 2011
7:37 am

Lets hope lil b has no childern.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 25th, 2011
7:42 am

Actually, because I’m a responsible adult willing and able to fully support my family, and with a very successful track record of doing so, you should be hoping that I continue spreading my seed.

asalih

June 25th, 2011
7:51 am

That was a very good point. The government pays for the black man to go away with fake incentives. Subsidized housing, one time a year income tax return,etc when all the time the children are not being raised. No structure, order or discipline. In the 1970s there were two parent homes because the black men had jobs and women did not in general. When the jobs left the country, the black men lost their jobs and the black women were getting jobs. The beginning of most black men leaving families. I believe it was organized and set up. Now its moved to white families when a host of white men lost their jobs. Just like a boomerang. There was no talk of depression in men because of loss of jobs when black men lost their manufacturing jobs. But now there is, just like there is talk of a problem with fathers. While the oppressors are planning God plans too and God is the best planner.

Annie

June 25th, 2011
7:59 am

Black men, actually men of any race, don’t abandon their children because of anything that the government has done, they do so because they are too selfish to take care of their responsibilities. Removing welfare won’t make someone suddenly realize that they should love their children and want the best for them.

We do live in a society where parents haven’t stressed to their sons that they are just as responsible as women for the children that they bring into this world, and that that responsibility exists even if they are not married to their children’s mother, or living in the same house as their children.

GT

June 25th, 2011
8:01 am

You hit all the obvious in your study. A war on drugs seems to be taboo as we talk about a government that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. A federal or state prison is the epic center of this converstation. You can go to a visiting room any weekend and find the crisis.

True most state prisoners are more violate, in federal prison you will find a ton of black men not violate separated from family. You have a government that could care less about prevention and totally focused on punishment. Where conservatives very often go wrong is they not only punish the criminal they punish society. They love the blame game. “Not my fault” he did it to himself. Maybe that makes them sleep better at night but it is not solving the problem. A loud message from the government in this hard headed area that good fathers will be respected by society would go a long ways. And the fact is we are losing this drug war anyway, so what is the point of doing further damage.

Rehab them, most drug dealers are not addicts, and teach them parenting skills. Get them out of our prison system and off our payroll. It ain’t rocket science it is just a mind set that if we do it like this we have to admit we were wrong in the way we handle it in the first place. If the government thinks this is a secondary problem and punishment is primary the society will treat it as such and it will continue.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 25th, 2011
8:10 am

Annie: Removing welfare won’t make someone suddenly realize that they should love their children
——————–

Removing welfare WILL make people not have babies they can’t support.

Poor teen girl with no baby: No handout check, no EBT card, no free housing.
Poor teen girl with baby: Handout check on the way, EBT card in hand, no worries about housing.

Take away the handouts and you fix 90% of the problem.

GT

June 25th, 2011
8:23 am

One other thing as I read this blog. The perception is this is a black thing. It is growing in the white community too. We in the south think all crime come from minority, one of the reasons we do not get involved with prevention. I would love to see a study of the movement towards “white trash” in our country. All the things DeborahinAthens labeled for black men are starting to show up in this generation of white men too. One thing this government has been able to do is spread sorryness equally to all mankind, through failed schools and social structure. We throw money at it because we want to pay a constituency of teacher not because we want an educated society. We want to punish not have a better world.

J.Roam

June 25th, 2011
8:25 am

Government can’t regulate baby daddy.

Bobby

June 25th, 2011
8:36 am

Three cheers for the State of New York in rooting out inequality and permitting gays to marry, As the Georgia Legislature is only about 100 years behind in civil rights legislation Georgia gay residents can look forward to 2111 to achieve equality. Native born proud Southerner here but New York definitely is more Christ oriented than Georgia and the so called Bible belt where we preach intolerance and bigotry instead of Christ’s love. Once again those d*** Yankees show us the way.

Carlosgvv

June 25th, 2011
8:37 am

The roots of inequality run equally from nature and nurture. If you talk about nurture, you are considered thoughtful and caring and one who can clearly see the problem. If you talk about nature, you are an ignorant, racist, politically incorrect person not good for much of anything. Unfortunately, nature is a factor in how ALL of us turn out and insults, ridicule and name calling cannot invalidate it and will NOT make it go away.

jconservative

June 25th, 2011
8:41 am

Pat June 24th, 2011 11:56 pm

You have several solid points in your comments. Well thought out comments. Thanks.

The problem of the growing single parent families existed way before the War on Poverty. The War on Poverty just did nothing to help resolve the problem. Did it make a bad situation worse? Maybe.

See Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 memo “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action” in which he identified and noted the rise of the single parent black family and predicted it would spread to all of society. Moynihan was in the Labor Dept under Kennedy and did the study that was released under the Johnson Administration.

Today, just in pure numbers, there are more white single parent families than black single family parents. And the issue is not just in the US, the entire western world has been seeing the rise of single parent families for the last 40 plus years.

Moynihan recommended government action and his study helped form the intellectual basis for the War on Poverty. But the War on Poverty programs were not the solutions Moynihan necessarily recommended. And the War on Poverty did nothing to resolve the issue.

Interesting also that the various black and more liberal organizations called for Moynihan’s head after the report was issued. And that criticism has continued to this day. He is still called a racist by many in the old civil rights community.

But it turns out he was right. (Moynihan had a terrible habit of being right.)

jconservative

June 25th, 2011
8:44 am

Kyle, if you are working this AM see my June 25th, 2011 8:41 am which is “awaiting moderation”.

GT

June 25th, 2011
8:44 am

What can the government regulate? Where has the government been successful in regulation? I think small government is an excellent idea. But in that we not only go after what does not affect the rich and middle class such as welfare we go after fewer prisons, less war, things that make us feel secure but at the end of the day are failures. We shouldn’t have to regulate a Madoff, any fool should have known that man was up to something. We want a government as something to blame for our own shortcomings with no responsibility to ourselves. If you want an effective war have one against irresponsible fatherhood. Fill the jails up with these people. Take em off the streets so they can’t reproduce. Bring the kids to the prisons and have them spend time with them there under supervision, in a positive light instead of some drunken haze. If you are a married man give em some room, like a tax break reward good behavior. If you are going to lock a whole society up do it for a good reason.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 25th, 2011
8:47 am

Bobby: New York definitely is more Christ oriented
———————

Too fkn funny! Yeah, the Bible is totally supportive of homosexual “marriage” and contains many positive examples of same-sex couples.

fair and imbalanced

June 25th, 2011
8:47 am

Barry – spreading your seed in your boyfriend’s mouth wont get you more kids.

fair and imbalanced

June 25th, 2011
8:48 am

Jesus does have a nice swimmer’s body!

Michael H. Smith

June 25th, 2011
8:53 am

A dog is a dog because the nature/instincts of a dog will not allow it to choose or change to be anything other than a dog.

Fortunately, the nature/instincts of human beings DOES NOT ULTIMATELY determine what a man or woman can to be or the desires to change in their lives. We have a “WILL” that can override our animal nature/instinct unlike the beast of the field.

Lil' Barry Bailout

June 25th, 2011
8:59 am

fair and imbalanced: Barry – spreading your seed in your boyfriend’s mouth wont get you more kids.
——————-

What good are you then?

J.Roam

June 25th, 2011
9:05 am

To da snitch in athens

mother’s day is monday and those poo pot baby mommas bedda not be out of pocket again.

GT

June 25th, 2011
9:06 am

We are zombies with very little individuality. It used to be we could wake up in a town in this country and by looking out the window tell where we are. Now days we look out any window from any town and we see the same thing. Movies have gotten that way, books, everything is the same. Nature of instinct has little to do with modern life. It is like “Ground Hog Day” a repeat of every other day. The only thing that can break you out of that is education and even that is programmed. We have watered down the term. Like the man said, we can’t handle the truth so we walk around like zombies.

JF McNamara

June 25th, 2011
9:07 am

Kyle wrote:

“Government has only encouraged these trends toward dad-lessness. The rise in single-parent families coincides with the beginning of the welfare state, aka President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and there’s some evidence the trend has slowed since the welfare reforms of the 1990s.”

This is a giant leap. I think that government is responsible, but it definitely isn’t the welfare state. The 60’s coincides with the era of women’s liberation. In the 50’s, a divorced woman had nearly no job prospects and society would outcast her.

After the 60’s, women began to enter the work force, and society accepted (even encourages) divorce. Why put up with anything from a husband if you can divorce him and get child support and alimony? Why do women need a man when they can be the boss?

I surrender that the only role government played in this trend was making society a more free place. As a though exercise, If it were the welfare state, wouldn’t our divorce and separation rates be lower (more in line with welfare)? Our divorce rate is nearly 50%. There is something much larger going on in our society. More women’s rights = more divorce and less marriage. I’m ok with that.

poor whites

June 25th, 2011
9:20 am

You people do realize white people take advantage of government programs too. I know many lower middle class college students who receive food stamps.

poor whites

June 25th, 2011
9:23 am

Oh and white people also have many unplanned pregnancies. In my hometown there are more single mothers than single women. Some parts of rural Georgia are just like the hood.

MarkV

June 25th, 2011
9:28 am

“The rise in single-parent families coincides with the beginning of the welfare state, aka President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society,”
Kyle, you shuld know that coincidence is not evidence of cause and effect.

J.Roam

June 25th, 2011
9:29 am

Wadcho mouf! Don’t be given da hood a badt name like that b’woy.

No More Progressives!

June 25th, 2011
9:30 am

poor whites
June 25th, 2011
9:23 am

Oh and white people also have many unplanned pregnancies. In my hometown there are more single mothers than single women. Some parts of rural Georgia are just like the hood.

I live in rural GA and it ain’t like that here.

Check these stats

June 25th, 2011
9:32 am

Black male, Masters degree, white collar job, has own business as 2nd job, married w two boys. Before you all just lump me into the deadbeat category because I’m black and a male, realize that this is becoming a societal problem. Even if Wingfield didn’t provide rising stats of white deadbeats. If he thinks the problem is so bad, why isn’t he questioning his party that favors tax breaks for companies that ship manufacturing jobs overseas, education assistance, birth control, and any other policy that may mitigate the problem?

poor whites

June 25th, 2011
9:37 am

Could it be that you live in a better part of rural Georgia? I said some parts. Either way my point remains that white people have social problems too. Im sure everyone in your community is a perfect example of what a citizen should be, but parts of rural georgia have more poverty and single mothers per capita than inner city projects.

zeke

June 25th, 2011
9:39 am

Liberalism is a death causing disease! It kills countries! It is killing the USA! It must be cured and eliminated!

Michael H. Smith

June 25th, 2011
9:42 am

Kyle, the next time you toss a rock into a pond of water the ripples you will see are merely the coincidence of unexplainable happenstance – the laws physics really don’t exist! :lol:

fair and imbalanced

June 25th, 2011
9:56 am

Barry – good one

Independent

June 25th, 2011
10:26 am

Your comments are confusing – although I agree that there is a problem with too many one-parent families. I see the problem as too many unwanted pregnancies happening and too many WANTED pregnancies. And it happens in both white and black neighborhoods. I live in a small mountain community where there are very few blacks, but the joke is that a girl should be pregnant to be able to get her high school diploma. The unwanted pregnancies are very easy to prevent, come on people, we live in an age with multiple avenues of birth control. Take some responsibility for your actions. Especially to the males, to control this, make both parents financially responsible for the children they father until they are eighteen. No signing away your dad rights just to get out of child support. You pay no matter what if you father a child.

The wanted children, such as a 16-year-old girl getting pregnant just to have “someone to love her” could be cured by taking away htose financial incentives (food stamps, TANF, etc.) that the mother enjoys. If the mother can’t support the child (with the father’s part, also) then the baby should be taken and adopted out to a family that can support him or her. Also, no medicaid payments should be made for childbirth,

There is a rash of young people and poor people making irresponsible decisions and then not having any repercussions from those decisions. That is what needs to change. Every child born should be born into a family that wants it, loves it, and has the financial means to take care of it.