Sentences to ponder

Fewer children in the United States grow up with both biological parents than in any other affluent country for which data are available.

Here is another bit:

Genuine progress probably hinges on poor or less-educated women delaying childbirth. Eventually, this will happen; the teen birthrate has already been dropping for nearly two decades, albeit slowly. For its part, Washington (or any other government) has only limited tools to speed it up.

That is from Lane Kenworthy, from his article on why opportunity has slowed down in the United States, hat tip Brad DeLong.


'Fewer children in the United States grow up with both biological parents than in any other affluent country for which data are available.'

And yet, Swedes grow up in more unmarried households than in the U.S. Maybe marriage isn't the measure of raising families with both biological parents in the household, which is why that sentence was so carefully formulated?

'The new myth is that the institution of marriage is disappearing. Researcher Stanley Kurz raised the red flag a couple of years ago, when he claimed in the influential conservative journal The Weekly Standard that marriage is slowly dying in Scandinavia. “A majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of first-born children have unmarried parents,” Kurz declared. Not only that, but Sweden is singled out as “the world leader in family decline”. USA Today echoed these sentiments recently, suggesting that “marriage in parts of Scandinavia is dying.”
These obituaries sound ominous. One assumes that there are tens of thousands of abandoned children wandering the streets of Stockholm and Helsinki, neglected and unloved, while the only people getting married, presumably, are romantically-minded gay couples. Of course, statistics are open to interpretation. My personal reaction to Kurz’ claim—as someone who has lived and worked in Sweden since 1986—was amazement. In the first place, I wondered why the American researcher would be so worried about marital bliss, or the lack thereof, among people living on the roof of Europe.
About half of my Swedish friends with children are not formally married. But these unmarried couples are all in ordinary family relationships, no better or worse than the relationships of couples I know who are married. Unmarried Dad takes turns with Mom in picking Junior up from the day-care center each afternoon. Neither Mom nor Dad wants to go to their kid’s school parent night, but they finally reach a compromise. Some of these unmarried couples decide eventually to have a wedding, if only as an excuse to have a big party.'

I had friends like this in Hungary, too, where the couple was not married but had children and were cohabiting.

Why is this a good thing? To what end such a relationship?

It appears to provide the appearance of flexilibility or freedom without the substance. Or more precisely, it's a free option to get up and leave anytime, and I can only imagine that this is primarily to the benefit of the man, to a lesser extent the woman, and not at all to the children.

It's infantile and irresponsible.

it simply doesn't matter. if they have kids and the guys decides to leave, he'll pay the same child support and very likely the same alimony (if her lawyer is any good). no free option.

swedes (and probably hungarians) likely have lower sociosexuality than hispanics and blacks (two large minority groups in the US that neither sweden nor hungary has), and are therefore more likely to stay together in cohabiting relationships (and with or without children) without the imprimatur of a marriage certificate than are typical representatives of unmarried couples in the US. so cohabitation may only be "infantile and irresponsible" if the parties involved are innately more predisposed to infantile and irresponsible behavior.

of course, none of this kind of talk would be so shocking for the lumpenelite to hear if there wasn't a veritable msm lockdown on the expression of naughty ideas about how genetics influence human personality, both that of individuals and large human racial groups.

never mind, nothing to see here... just keep pumping trillions into loser policies crafted with the premise of infinite malleability of human nature.

lords of lies, the single mothers you are decrying typically aren't even cohabiting around the time of birth. It's not about failing to maintain a relationship through childbirth, but not being in one in the first place.

It is infantile and irresponsible, and it would be wonderful to hear that from so prestigious a voice as that of our gracious proprietor, TC. However, I am not holding my breath.

You're right that this is a disaster for the children, but wrong that it's primarily to the benefit of the man—Take it away, lords.

I love the way this blog's comment section has become a broken levee on the shoreline of acceptable thought. In some way or another I guess this is to Cowen's credit. Maybe the future is not doomed after all; maybe the internet really will save us. Maybe it all starts right here.

ahahahha ok ok heee that was fun. now back to your regularly scheduled decline.

Please, tell us more about why easy divorce is to the benefit of the woman!

Because in the real world, women end up with way worse outcomes after a marriage ends (women are, for example, way more likely to have been out of the workforce for a long time during the marriage and thus have trouble finding well-paying employment after divorce).

It's only in the bizarro-world of the Game-o-Sphere that all of these women, after many years of marriage, pull an "eatpraylove" (that's what you guys call it, right?) to go bang some black stud while their sad-sack beta herb provider husband is left paying child support. Aren't they past the "wall" at that point anyway?

I am unconvinced that women end up with worse out comes after divorce. It depends if you are comparing like with like. A woman who ends up with less money than her former husband may still be vastly better off if she gets the house. That is especially true in places like the UK where housing is so expensive. She gets to keep the children which would be hard to price.

I assume that in bizarroGameworld, they assume that many women *think* that this is what they will be doing. Not necessarily that they will be doing it.

But the fact that easy divorce is to the benefit of women is shown by the fact that they initiate some 66% of them.

Then why do women initiate all the divorces?? At least 2/3

why do women initiate more divorces? because they bear the brunt of a bad marriage?

I have no idea why women initiate more divorces. What percentage of divorces are because of the male sleeping with somebody else, the female finding out and initiating a divorce?

In any case, my point wasn't about who initiates them, it's about outcomes later. It's entirely possible that women initiate the majority of divorces but end up, on average, with worse outcomes once it's over.

Michael, in that case women must be made better off by divorce, no?

Go, theoretically possible I guess, but unlikely. Shouldn't the default assumption be that things freely chosen make you better off?

How is two people permanently cohabiting in any way different from a marriage bar a contract?

What good does that contract do anyway? Divorce is simple and easy in the US and plenty of both men and women initiate them. Apparently having a contract doesn't make a relationship any more stable.

If you had the opportunity, as a couple, to get all the legal benefits of a marriage, without having to be married but simply by permanently cohabiting, then why would you get married except for religious reason? Do you trust each other so little that you need a contract tying you together?

Are you an advocate for laws against divorce? So if you get married you can't get a divorce for ten years by law? That's the only way to prevent people from getting up and leaving at any time. Well they can leave, they'll just be "separated". A good friend of mine in Northern Ireland has been fighting for her divorce for 15 years from her husband who she has been separated from for just as long, and she is still struggling because the courts won't let her as it is "unchristian" to break up a marriage.

I'd take the Swedish system any time.

Good. That's fifteen years of alimony/child support he didn't have to pay.

If your point about the marriage contract in the US is that it's worthless because it's unenforceable, at least against the woman, then... I agree. But referring to the enforcement of the marriage contract as "laws against divorce" is a strange way of putting it.

God dammit you Men's Rights people need to just crawl back to Reddit we don't want you here

See above. Levee is broken.

The problem is you are seeing marriage simply as a contract. As a contract, to which children are not part, it is of course easy to break. Many people see it that way and do. If you saw marriage in another way you would not ask those questions.

Yes, if the State tries to step in and make your boyfriend legally liable, they can make marriage less attractive. If the State tries to make him a good husband, it doesn't mean they will succeed. They will just make him legally liable to payment. A sensible person does not trust a spouse in the modern West.

Excuse if I doubt your friend's story. She is pulling your leg. Northern Ireland has not banned divorce for a long time. It is trivially easy to get a divorce there. Well, it is slightly harder than in England - you need to be married for two years instead of one in England - but not by much. Even a contested divorce is easy once you've been married for five years. The Northern Irish Courts are not much concerned about religion as a general rule. Strange but true. You mean the Republic of Ireland? Even there divorce is legal and some third of all births are to single mothers.

Where exactly does it make a difference to anyone? Marriage is but a piece of paper saying you are married...

The issue really isn't whether or not the parents are married, but whether they are together and remain so while their children are growing up. In the US "common law" marriages aren't unheard of (though they have no legal status) but true single parent families (where the father, generally, is wholly absent) are not rare, and it's those families who are a problem for children.

They do have legal status in some states.


Yes, carefully crafted to say what it means.

There is no way to craft a sentence to be clear enough to someone who wants to misinterpret it.

For a serious discussion of this subject see

"Krugman fundamentally misunderstands Sweden"

Read it all. The first part is

"Paul Krugman is profoundly inspired by Sweden. He has stated that the ideal society he dreams of is Sweden around 1980. Since Krugman is working to transform the United States in the image of another society, we would expect him to put a lot of effort in understanding his utopia. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case.

In a responce to Ross Douthats thoughtful column, Krugman writes “In Sweden, more than half of children are born out of wedlock — but they don’t seem to suffer much as a result, perhaps because the welfare state is so strong. Maybe we’ll go that way too. So?”

This is highly misleading. In secular Sweden, family traditions differ from those of the United States. Cohabitation (“samboförhållande”) is formally recognized and treated by the law as virtually identical to marriage. Swedish couples typically cohabitate, get children and only then get marry. Statistics Sweden explains:

“Living together without being married has long been common and majority of the children born in Sweden are born out of wedlock, but usually cohabiting, parents. Cohabitation can in many respects
equated with being married, and young adults has been widely accepting of couples with children remaining unmarried. Despite this, most couples choose to married eventually. Of the couples that are followed in this report and still lived together at the end of 2010, 73 percent married, while 27 percent were still cohabitating….About 10 percent of couples did not live together when the child was born, but most of these couples have lived together before or after birth. Approximately 3 percent of all couples never lived together and had a child outside of a relationship.”"

is there some reason that other countries should not emulate the US and sweden that i'm missing here? or is it just prejudice my everyone here towards nuclear families?

Try comparing life outcomes of those raised by both parents vs. mother alone (actually some stats I have seen suggest that those raised by the father only do a little better in some respects than those raised by both parents, but I assume that is due to selection issues). Rate of incarceration is like 40x. Obviously you have some confounding variables, but still.

"Tools" that might make a difference in delaying childbirth:
Increase benefits to two parent homes.
Greater access to abortion.

>Increase benefits to two parent homes


There are things that are politically viable and there are things that are not.

Where has any Republican actually proposed this?

On the other hand, I have seen "we're gonna get rid of Planned Parenthood" and "We should be able to watch them on film."

A general question from a regular reader who doesn't know where else to ask: Presumably someone won the $1/2 billion dollar Powerball jackpot recently. Suppose a civic minded individual in a declining Midwest city were to have a spare $250 million to spend to help boost his or her fair city. How would the money best be spent to improve a Memphis, St. Louis, or Detroit long term?

Give $10M each to the richest 25 people in the city so they can continue with their job creating efforts.

Why would the 25 richest need your gift of 10 mil? You could loan it to them with some interest rate. Not only would they make jobs and money, but you'd get your money back plus interest!

Surely loaning them the money and charging interest would mean they had less money to create jobs. We can't have that.

Thats not how loans work.
put it another way, instead of loaning the money, directly invest by purchasing "shares" of these rich people's money-making/job creating enterprises. you'll take on more risk, but the potential to reap greater rewards is there and the rich people won't be constrained by a loan structure.

here's a better Idea that Krugman would approve of: Go around town and throw a rock through every window. Then pay for all the window replacements! boom! economic stimulus!

Well Tyler Cowen might like to pay a bunch of new immigrants to open some new ethnic restaurants.

Paul Krugman probably would go for the window smashing idea.

Greg Mankiw would probably spend it lobbying for taxes on graffiti and litter as the obvious solution to urban decay.

Nouriel Roubini would put a third of it in his 401(k) and then move to Switzerland with the rest until the Second Great Depression had blown over.

George Akerlof would declare that forged notes are indistinguishable from real ones these days and so there was no way of telling if the money was real. Therefore it was worthless and so he'd throw it in the trash.

Bill Nordhaus would do nothing because Detroit has managed to achieve an ideal work-life balance as well as reduce its carbon emissions so it ought to be a model for us all and not a warning.

Warren Buffett would probably suggest putting it in a Charitable Trust while demanding everyone else pay more tax.

Which is an improvement on Noam Chomsky who would put it in his own family trust while demanding that the 1% be shot.

Larry Ellison would probably promise it to Harvard if they opened a local campus. Then change his mind and keep the money. Which he would then spend on bulk purchases of expensive sports cars. Which he would then, out of the goodness of his heart, distribute to a reasonable number of very young, very pretty, very long legged women in the local area.

But me, I would combine a bit of Bill Clinton and a bit of Ben Bernanke. I would spend a good proportion of it on cheap alcohol and even cheaper women. Then I'd fly over St. Louis in a helicopter dropping the rest of the cash out of the window. But unlike Bernanke I wouldn't do this because it would help the economy. I just think it would be fun.


What would Daron Acemoglu do?

Move the money to a country with a British Parliamentary system.

Setup a parks endownment or scholarship fund or something. 1 time payments, even large ones, rarely have lasting positive effect. Jobs will certainly not be created.

Uh... unless it's invested in expanding a business?

I am amazed that people are surprised by the obvious. Not surprised that some will try to make excuses.

Did you purposely post this that progress made a decrease birthrate of single poor mothers and The Truly Important News of falling birthrates today?

Aren't these trends different sides of the same coin. The good news of falling births to poor single mothers means the the bad news of falling birth rates in the US. And the US is actually behind most developed nations on both counts. It seems more rational and financial stables couples have children at the right time, also means the birth rate will continue to decline. (Remember Singapore's bad pillow talk rap about it was civic duty to have baby making sex?)

Tyler, how would fix this long term contradiction?

What matters more than the marriage rate per se is parental invesment in their children, particularly paternal investment, which has greater variability than maternal investment within and across societies. The question is, to what degree is the marriage rate a good proxy for parental/paternal invesment across countries--and to what extent governmental and cultural forces crowd out paternal investment, and/or incentivize women to have children with men who will provide a low degree of paternal investment.

In the first edition of Mark Kleiman's "When Brute Force Fails", he recommended a program of home-visitation by nurses to help poor mothers with their children. By the time of the edition I own, he had given that up since studies hadn't borne it out. Is Lane Kenworthy aware?

Tino Sanandaji is from Sweden (by way of Iranian Kurdistan) and debunks the comparisons of their marriage rate to ours:

In Sweden, couples don't always marry, but there is a powerful norm that they should stay and raise their child (or children) together. They tend to do that. In the U.S. cohabiting couples are far more unstable than married couples, who are already less stable than cohabiting Swedish couples. A 15 year old in the U.S. is considerably less likely to be living with both bio parents than a 15 year old in other developed countries. See Andrew Cherlin's The Marriage-Go_Round.
Family instability everywhere is related to poverty and inequality and to academic failure. The implications for the U.S.are huge.

US welfare policy in most States denies intact families in poverty welfare aid - no matter the best job is $10/hr 30hr/week at temp worker contractor to contract Wal-Mart warehouse, you as husband are supposed to support your family without welfare. But if you abandon family, then they get welfare, and now a judge determines you don't make enough to support them when figuring child support. The judge might order you to stop malingering and get a job as Wal-Mart executive, but at least your family is taken care of by welfare to a better degree than they would otherwise.

"Washington (or any other government) has only limited tools to speed it up."

Well, one big tool would be to not let in so many immigrants who are likely to raise their children as single parents.

Greatest commenter name ever.

Thanks for standing in.

The Pew Hispanic Center has a new report including illegitimacy rates:

Foreign-born Hispanic mothers in the U.S.: 50% of babies born out of wedlock

American-born Hispanic mothers: 58% born out of wedlock


And throw out the African Americans too?

African-Americans are our fellow American citizens.

The first thing to do when you find yourself standing in a hole is stop digging.

In the first part of the article it talks about equal opportunity and how what income bracket you are born into changes how likely you are to end up in the top 50%. I wonder if we are leaving out the idea of leaving some of our opportunity to our kids. We want our kids to have a better life than we did right? Is not that also an "American" ideal? So why should my ladder climbing not benefit my children?

I think we are forgetting that equal opportunity comes out of a fight with a hereditary aristocracy. Perhaps we need to redefine what we want equal opportunity to be? Where do we want to stop hand holding and say there you go, you have gotten X amount of education you are now on equal opportunity footing? Should everyone be able to go to the best schools? (which would be quite a feat as best is always changing.) What about the opportunities built by forming friendships at expensive summer camps? Not to mention my father introduced me to you opportunities?

If equal opportunity means anything more than hard work pays off, what does it mean?

For some people, equal opportunity means equal outcome/Harrison Bergeron. "What genes you are born with changes how likely you are to end up in the top 50%!"

UIltimately, I don't see how true 'equality of opportunity' CAN mean anything short of 'equality of conditions'. Different conditions mean different opportunity sets.

Yeah I know, it's the law. But it's also a fantasy.

Are you seriously implying "equality of opportunity" is the law in America?

If so, please let me know. I'll send my kids to Anacostia High and then sue.

Am I the only one who wants to blame the lack of comprehensive sex education? If you want to blame teen pregnancy, this seems to me the obvious (though not sole) culprit. Abstinence-only education was a joke. Wouldn't free condoms at every high school and instruction on how to use them have a significant effect on outcomes?

For the most part, it's not teenagers who are the the single mothers. It's women in their 20s and 30s who are bearing children outside marriage.

Unconvincing. In addition to John M's comment, teens and young adults don't need education to know that sperm + egg could = baby.

It's not an issue of cost--condoms are very cheap and coitus interruptus is free. Impulse control and future time orientation are more likely culprits.

Oh come on, anyone who reads this blog (or pretty much anything else) will know that nearly free and free are miles away from each other in terms of the effect they have on people using a service or good.

Also the original post refers to teen birth rates, which is what Zachary refers to with regard to sex ed. Saying that sexual education is not a good thing to prevent teen pregnancies is ridiculous.

I'm aware of the power of free. My point remains. Education is not the magic bullet here.

If teen pregnancies are the matter under consideration, sure, but it's a creepy concentration of attention. The unmarried birthrate for women 15-17 is lower than the rate for those 35-39, and the rate for 18-19 year-olds is lower than that for 25-29 year-olds.

It's the same thing with suicide. The rate for teenagers is much lower than for middle-aged men or old men, but the teenage suicide rate is the one that is reported on endlessly.

Regarding suicide, this is somewhat understandable. It is a greater tragedy if a teenager kills him or herself than if a 68-year-old does.

Or some people just don't mind, or even want to have children out of wedlock. This is where governmental incentives and cultural influences matter.

Sweden has state-provided child care and guaranteed parental leave, and of course health insurance for all their children. But since those are liberal causes, clearly they can't have anything to do with it.

Er, are you saying that "state-provided child care and guaranteed parental leave, and of course health insurance for all their children" would tend, if anything, to lower the rate of formal marriage. No reason for it to *increase* the rate at which both parents remain in the household, since you are disincentivizing same. Certainly it would not tend to further "poor or less-educated women delaying childbirth".

That is a way of looking at childbirth and marriage that only an economist could come up with. Actually thinking about real human considerations makes it immediately obvious that those policies make it easier for people to do what they natrually want to do, which is raise children, rather than feeling overwhelmed by it, which is the whole point. Luckily for us, the proof is in the pudding of Sweden's data on the subject.

I'm super confused about what your point is.

Could this troubling trend be due to the fact that women have too many legal rights in the US? If a woman prefers, she can refuse to have sex with her spouse and collect child support instead.

"Genuine progress probably hinges on poor or less-educated women delaying childbirth."

So after many years of denial, many people are finally beginning to recognize the
wisdom of eugenics?

Monty Python's "The Protestant View" on this subject:

Pay poor single mothers to have abortions.

ahhhh this is delightful

Good news from Sweden! Marriage is the last remnants of the patriarchy. Hasten it's decline!

So far no one says anything about availability and cost of abortions. Without data my hypothesis says that these are declining / rising. Which may lead to more single moms without partners.

In one chapter in her book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander ponders the question "Where are all the black men?" and our denial of the answer we already know (hint: prison). Setting aside the poor argument about the necessity of monogamous marriage over anything form of emotional commitment, maybe we should ask questions about what is produced by having the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

"we should ask questions about what is produced by having the highest rate of incarceration in the world"

angry black women.

those are the big three.

Comparing Swedes to US residents along any dimension is likely meaningless for purposes of inference. Try comparing Swedes to Swedish-Americans! I'd bet that differences are small!

"Comparing Swedes to US residents along any dimension is likely meaningless for purposes of inference. Try comparing Swedes to Swedish-Americans! I’d bet that differences are small!"

That is apparently quite correct.

You mean 50% plus of Swedish-American mothers are unmarried when they have their first child? Really?

Data on immigrants in Sweden would be pretty interesting as well.

"Genuine progress probably hinges on poor or less-educated women delaying childbirth"

To paraphrase Greta Garbo in "Ninotchka," our goal should be fewer but better poor children.

It's better for poor parents to devote their scant parental resources to one child than to three (or five).

Apparently not for the parents! :-)

The environment will take its inevitable toll on behavior; it just takes a while.

Don't forget the externalities of less competent mothers having 3 children instead of 1, which tend to drive down the fertility of more competent mothers. If the less prudent mother's children are overwhelming the public schools, the more prudent mother's options include paying for private school or to moving to an expensive school district or foregoing children.

It is probably not better for poor parents to devote their scant parental resources to only one child. That makes sense for Upper Middle Class parents whose child's success depends on them getting good grades and getting into a good college. But poor parents? Their children aren't going to Harvard. Their off springs' chance to make big is a good marriage, or at least extracting resources from one or more wealthier men.

So poor families should have daughters. Who should be as slutty as they need to be in order to capture Bill Gates or at least get knocked up by an NBL player. As education plays no role in this and favorable genes (leading to pretty features) do, they should have as many as possible. You may have to try three or four times before you hit the jack pot with Honey Boo Boo.

"So poor families should have daughters. Who should be as slutty as they need to be in order to capture Bill Gates"

Larry Ellison would be a more plausible goal.

In all the statistics, America is an amazingly wealthy and successful country for white people and a third world country for black people. Averaging those things it tends to look like an edgy 1st world country. That's true of infant mortality, it's true of life expectancy, it's true of incarceration, and I've read that it's true of single-parent homes as well.

My bet is that race alone probably explains most of the variance, especially when you consider that a huge percentage of black men end up locked up for drug crimes, directly causing broken homes.

Data says you are wrong.. Its driven by whites. See

'America is an amazingly wealthy and successful country for white people'

Except for incarceration rates, drug addiction, health care access - or have you forgotten just how many poor white people live in America? Because the U.S. is not exactly an 'edgy 1st world country' when looking at a state like West Virginia. Or Kentucky. Or - well, there is easily another 15 to name, but why bother? We all know their names, and easily ignore them when talking about how amazing America is.

According to Tino Sanandaji the long-term uninsurance rate for non-Hispanics whites above 25 is 3%.

'the long-term uninsurance rate for non-Hispanics whites above 25 is 3%.'

Cute - so what is 'long term uninsurance' compared to being uninsured right now?

Equally cute - 'above 25?' So we don't count people under 25 in terms of car accidents or disease, insured or uninsured?

Seems like a heroic effort to hide something, much like the original sentence that prompted this post. That sentence was carefully framed to avoid the reality that how parents raise their children is not connected to their marital status, which is generally considered a bedrock proposition of child raising in the United States. And also ducking any comments about the reality that such behavior is cultural, having absolutely nothing to do with any of the spurious reasons some of the commenters here find in classifications which have absolutely no basis in science.

Sanandaji's point about uninsurance was made in the context of discussion about why whites are less likely to support Obamacare. Short-term uninsurance means that one is uninsured for one month or more during a period of two years. The fact is that the vast majority of whites do have full access to health care at any point in time.

Sanandaji has posted many interesting comparisons between Swedes and Swedish-Americans. The basic result is that these two populations are highly similar in their various aggregate outcomes, except that the latter are vastly more wealthy than the former. See this post, for example. I agree with you than ascribing the successes of Sweden only to government policies is a mistake, because the culture of the Swedes which long predates the welfare state is a crucial variable.

The non-Hispanic white homicide rate in the US is currently 3 per 100,000 or so, not much higher than the 1-2 per 100,000 that is customary in Western Europe and lower than that of some Eastern European countries. The incarceration rate is definitely higher in the US though.

You're a fool if you think the "original sentence" is hiding anything. Sweden is not America. It is child-rearing we are talking about, not marriage.

nobody has mentioned taxes. a dear friend has been cohabiting for 9 years, two kids and the couple's getting married just for tax advantages.

Are there tax advantages for married couples in Sweden?

There is a huge marriage penalty for dual high-earners in the U.S.

JVM says: "My bet is that race alone probably explains most of the variance, especially when you consider that a huge percentage of black men end up locked up for drug crimes, directly causing broken homes." Is this observation based on empirical facts ? What is the source of the data if any?

Nope. Its driven by whites. See

Mr. Kenworthy is assuming that every person presented with an opportunity will take it. You can't measure the availability or quality of opportunity by the outcome. Unfortunately, you also can't force parents to be good caretakers and redistribution of the countries wealth will not do much to change individual's work ethics. The lowering birth rate among poorer Americans seems to be one of the most important positive statistics. Parents, even with inadequite parenting skills, will be better able to raise their children if their attention is spread less thinly.

"Waiting" by Ha Jin... You think it's hard to get a divorce in the West, try doing it in China...

A related article in Weekly Standard by Joh Last on this topic brings out interesting data points and observations and questions:

The link is for page 3 which is about "singles" as in title, the first two are about Hispanic data trends.

Lots of interesting points, too many to try to quote.

And yes, this radical leftist socialist obamabot liberal reads Weekly Standard and RedState with interest.

i would suggest that Last reconsider Moynihan's observations from the 60s/70s on family and welfare and think about the intact families with children in real welfare states like the Nordic nations - poor families or families in hard time in the US are punished by the welfare policies here and driven to break up or not form.

Scandinavian Americans tend to have quite similar social outcomes to Scandinavians in Scandinavia, despite being deprived of a "real welfare state".

Still waiting for that cite that says 50% or more of Swedish-American first time mothers are unmarried.

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