From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

Here‘s an amazing article from the NY Times indicating that, for women under 30 at least, a threshold has been crossed – more than half the births these women experience will be outside marriage. More specifically, 73% of black children, 53% of Latinos and 29% of whites born in this country are born to single parent moms. It’s a trend that’s been rising, and not just among the poor:

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Interestingly, the group most resistant to the trend is those who have a four year college degree. One of the implications of that is that kids who grow up with both parents will tend to be more affluent and more educated that other kids:

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

There’s little doubt that it’s happening. There seems to be some disagreement as to what the causes are and, therefore, what to do about it. In my uneducated view, helping unwed mothers and their kids (welfare, school breakfasts, etc) is a good thing but deals with effects not causes. Seems to me that one primary cause is the devaluing of marriage – why bother with it? A moral renewal that takes promises seriously, and sees the value of keeping promises, the value of commitment, would be necessary to restore marriage as a good and worthy thing to pursue, rather than an optional lifestyle.

But agree or disagree about causes, the trend is sure to change society. I’m seeing it already in the lack of commitment among our young, or their parents for that matter. Makes me wonder how, in the long run, a society can hold together without common commitments.

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