With a new report disclosing 48 percent of children are born to unwed mothers, Americans should be doing some soul searching.
Study after study has indicated that single motherhood is risky and costly. The latest comes from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Among the findings:
- In fact, at the age of 25, 44 percent of women have had a baby, while only 38 percent have married; by the time they turn 30, about two-thirds of American women have had a baby, typically out of wedlock.
- The median age of marriage for women is now nearly 27; for men, almost 29. A historically large number of young adults are single well into their thirties.
- [I]n the United States, 48 percent of all first births are now to unmarried women.
The US Report featured an article about the cost of opting for single parenthood. In 2009 The National Fatherhood Initiative released a report, the One Hundred Billion Dollar Man, concluding:
“The federal government spends $99.8 billion dollars every year on programs - such as child support enforcement and anti-poverty efforts - that support father-absent homes.”
The NFI also found that in 2003, 39.3 percent of single-mother families lived in poverty, but only 8.8 percent of father present families lived in poverty.
More than two decades ago, Dan Quayle pointed to problems for single mothers in a campaign speech as he and President George H. W. Bush ran for reelection. Quayle criticized the lead TV character in the popular show Murphy Brown.
The title character was a single, educated professional female who had it all, except for a man. Ms. Brown enjoyed a substantial income. Then came the day when she decided to have a child—“a lifestyle choice.”
Quayle criticized the choice and the characterization of a child as a “lifestyle choice,” and he was assaulted by media even more rigorously than the normal attacks Republican candidates endure. Quayle said:
“It’s time to talk again about family, hard work, integrity and personal responsibility. We cannot be embarrassed out of out belief that two parents, married to each other, are better in most cases for children than one. That honest work is better than hand-outs – or crime. That we are our brother’s keepers. That it’s worth making an effort, even when rewards aren’t immediate.”
Quayle was right then and he’s right now.
Sizable segments of the poverty population have chosen to be poor, by lifestyle choices like single parenthood and not completing an education.
Those costs are shifted onto those of us in non-poverty income ranges.
In the 1960s Democrats targeted low income sectors for votes. Entitlement spending rose, with safety nets multiplying on the federal landscape. A Heritage Foundation backgrounder noted the impact:
“When the War on Poverty began in the mid-1960s, only 6 percent of children were born out of wedlock. Over the next four and a half decades, the number rose rapidly. In 2008, 40.6 percent of all children born in the U.S. were born outside of marriage.”
That hundred billion figure doesn’t tell the whole story. When you add in all entitlements as the Heritage backgrounder did, the total assistance to single parent homes rose to $300 billion.
In times past, placing a figurative scarlet letter on the back of a single mother was wrong. But creating a system that encourages single motherhood is also morally wrong, particularly in an era where there are numerous options for birth control that did not exist in the 1960s.
Most studies also indicate that children in single parent homes have poorer outcomes.
“Researchers now view family instability as one of the greatest risks to children’s well being,” the report states. “Yet unmarried adults, including single 20-somethings who make up about half of unmarried parents, are by definition unsettled. [and]
Further, the report states: “Most researchers agree that on average, whether because of instability or absent fathers or both, children of unmarried mothers have poorer outcomes than children growing up with their married parents.”
Among some minorities, 80 percent of children live in fatherless homes for all or part of their childhood.
Dan Quayle, maligned by the political class and their puppets in the entertainment sector, was right.
Democrats (and “Femocrats”) who claim to care about women’s issues might make note of what their policies and the pop culture they own lock, stock and barrel have done to children and their single mothers as well as the cost passed on to the rest of us.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/March 21, 2013)
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