Friday, May 15, 2009

Q: How to fight poverty & save children? A: Marriage

Mona Charen reports:

the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics. It seems that the rate at which unmarried women are having babies in America jumped dramatically in the past seven years. “In 2007, there were 1,714,643 babies born to unmarried women, an increase of 4% from 2006, and 26% higher than the number in 2002 (1,365,966),” the NCHS reports. Forty percent of births in America are now to unwed mothers. Rates are highest among Hispanic women

By the age of 12, 78 percent of children living in non-married households have experienced one or more years of poverty. For children in intact families, the figure is 18 percent. Babies born to unwed moms are more likely to be premature, to be low birthweight, and to suffer other pathologies. Children who are raised in non-marital households have poorer school performance, more trouble with the law, more mental and emotional disturbances, more poverty, suffer more physical and sexual abuse, and are more likely to become unwed parents themselves. Here’s Hymowitz again: “Children of single mothers have lower grades and educational attainment than kids who grow up with married parents, even after controlling for race, family background, and IQ.”

Young women, especially poorly educated ones, have gotten the idea that marriage is all about them — about their romantic hopes. In fact, while marriage often does deliver on the promise of happiness for adults, it is only secondarily about adult happiness. It is primarily about safety and security for children. The old stigma against illegitimacy was harsh and led to its own kind of suffering. But it prevented narcissistic young people from impairing the lives of their children on a grand scale.

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