That correlation generated the outcry. Why? The stormy petrels believed that federal government interventions in schools along with other new entitlements, fueled by increased taxpayer $$$s, would provide the potion to ameliorate the symptoms.
Looking back over those decades, professor Sara McLanahan (Princeton University) and Christopher Jencks (Harvard Kennedy School) have vindicated Moynihan's correlation. In an Education Next article, McLanahan and Jencks note:
- In 1965, 25% of Black children and 5% of White children lived in families with a single mother.
- Since 2003, ~50% of Black children have been raised by unmarried mothers. Since the mid-1990s, the comparable rate for Whites remained ~18% to 20%.
- In 1960, 5% of all births were to unmarried mothers. In 2010, that number was 41% for all races and was 72% for Blacks.
Yes, the numbers are devastating for all races. Especially negatively impacted, however, are Blacks.
In addition, the nature of single motherhood has changed drastically over the 5 decades. As McLanahan and Jencks note:
- Single mothers today are far less likely ever to have been married than the single mothers of the past.
In 1960, 95% of single mothers had actually been married at some point in the past. In 2013, it was 50%.
- The largest %'age increase in single-motherhood is among mothers who have not completed college.
From 1980 to 2010, the number of Black children living with unmarried mothers without a high school diploma rose from 55% to 66%. The number living with unmarried mothers who had not finished college had rose from 43% to 50%. Lastly, the number living with unmarried mothers who had graduated from college rose from 23% to 28%.
- Families headed by unmarried mothers are 500% more likely to live in poverty than famliies headed by a married couple.
In 2013, the former had a 40% poverty rate, compared to an 8% poverty rate for the latter.
If those data aren't bad enough, consider these additional data from 2013 which indicate that the children of unmarried mothers are more likely to have half-siblings and to live with multiple adults:
- Before the child of an unmarried mother reaches 5 years of age, 61% of single mothers will live with a new partner. A stunning 11% will live with 3+ partners.
- A child who grows up with only one of his biological parents is 40% less likely to graduate from high school, with the absence of a father leading to increases in behavioral issues and delinquency.
- The children of an absent father have less chance of becoming employed.
The correlation Moynihan identified--the rise in single motherhood among less-educated women would create economic struggles for their families, as single mothers tend to have lower earnings than married mothers--was spot on.
Sadly, Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been vindicated once again. Family instability during a child's formative years generally is predictive of lower educational achievement and less economic opportunity in life, with the former providing the foundation for the latter.
For the past 5 decades, consider the following:
- all of the taxpayer $$$s that the federal government has spent to alleviate those outcomes;
- the expansion of the U.S. Department of Education;
- all of those politicians and public school teachers' union bosses who have pounded on rostrums about how much they "care" for the children; and,
- all of the programs that have been touted as going to do something to reverse this national disaster.
By not attending to the source of the malaise, however, there's been no social justice for those children. No, much of that economic, educational, and political capital appears to have been wasted, chasing after a dream constructed upon ether. Unfortunately, it's all "hopium" and no "changeum" for those children whose lives have borne the brunt of the stormy petrel's success in failing to deal directly with the source of the problem that everyone wants solved.
Even so, the stormy petrels continue to deny the correlation first posited by Daniel Patrick Moynihan 5 decades ago. For them, increasing taxes and directing more federal money to the symptoms will cure the disease. The data indicate that's nothing but a bunch of hogwash.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the McLanahan and Jencks article in Education Next, click on the following link:
"Was Moynihan Right?"