family structure

family structure

A Tipping Point in American History: New Forms of Violence

children, family structure, love, marriage, religion, violence No comments

Man thrives when he is loved, and needs love most especially when he is young so that he grows straight up and is not bent over by the burden of neglect.   A mature adult grown on love is then capable of giving love in more abundance, 10-fold, 50-fold or a 100-fold. When such a man or woman becomes a father and mother they can now give love and begin the cycle again.   As we have seen again and again, those in the intact married family are those most likely to give in abundance, not perfectly but in most abundance.

Therefore, the society of the future that will thrive most is the one with the most children growing up with the most love.  Thus the basic model of the thriving society is one that has more along three axes, the two axes of love and the axis of more children.  The more society worships, marries and has children the more it thrives — in everything.

The reverse model gives us much less good and much more weaknesses when there is less marriage, less worship and less children.

But with this negative/reverse model we are beginning to see that we get much more than “just less”.

Mary Eberstadt, in her recent critique of emerging patterns of violence across campuses  and other places in the US, is getting quite close to Rene Girard’s insights on the role of violence in society, and in starting new civilizations.  From the ‘almost-lynching’ of Charles Murray at Middlebury College earlier this year to the many similar incidents which have multiplied since then, she is highlighting an emerging violence new to our society, one that Charles Murray points out is going unpunished.  Professor Marsha Kinder of USC seems to suggest we are at a tipping point in saving or losing our society.

Going back to our reverse/negative model it occurs to me that what we are really seeing are the noxious weeds that are growing in the advanced de-Christianized section of America which is now in search of the new idols it needs to make America newly ‘sacred’ in its own terms.  In a very Girardian manner campus society (students and professors) is acting-out basic instincts of violence and hatred, testing their new “theology” as they search for victims to be successfully blamed and sacrificed.

Society’s laws, which attempt to contain violence, are undergirded by religious beliefs in turn undergirding the moral code that informs that code of laws.  Christianity, over the centuries, not only gradually contained violence but unmasked it through the Crucifixion. In that event the totally Innocent Victim was sacrificed but in so permitting Himself to be murdered overcame and exposed, for all future citizens of the world, the evil nature of violence and in the process made all innocent victims His closest collaborators across time and place.

There is a new rage loose in America that any rational person fears.   Should our leaders fail to contain this violence it will likely end in the murder of an innocent victim somewhere.  The violent part of America will continue to seek its “evil victim” who, by definition, is innocent in the eyes of Christians, but guilty in the eyes of the haters who marshal a Christianity-based victimology to condemn this ‘culprit’.  Cardinal George saw this phase  coming some time ago, when he reiterated and republished his lesson a year before his death:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

According to Girard all other cultures got their start with a foundational violent event, the murder of an innocent victim in which all the onlookers partook.  If successful in making the victim “guilty” the mob’s hatred is assuaged, and the event becomes sacred to their history.

The ‘reverse/negative model’ fills the vacuum with hatred. Keep an eye on the emerging raw hatreds and violence, the noxious weeds that fill the vacuum created by generations who worship God less and less.  This is very new phenomenon in America and the nation’s rescuers will have to be endowed with a special genius.

The Source and Power of Human Capital

family, family structure, human capital, marriage, religion 1 comment

Human Capital drives material and financial capital, across all the economies of the world.  That is why Harvard ranks so high: it “puts the best finishing touches” to the highest human capital it can lay its hands on (young people with high scores – who tend to come from good families) so their graduates can make the most of the future material and financial resources at their disposal.

 

But what is the source of human capital?   In three words: great long-term relationships.

 

The most fundamental of all relationships is that between our parents.  Nothing shapes the person as does his parents’ marriage (or lack of it).  Asian Americans have the most enduring marriages — and the highest achieving children in the US.

 

Some would contend — from the data — that one’s relationship with God is even more powerful and fundamental.

 

But really the question is: “Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?”

 

In the strongest families both relationships are present and the longer they are present the better the result – in all that the sciences measure.

 

The closer these relationships are, the stronger they are.  Close relationships, with God, spouse or children, demand care and nurturance. Ask any husband.  Ask any wife.

 

This is love – not romantic love, but enduring love.

 

The source of human capital is love: love of God and love of one’s closest neighbors: spouse and children.

 

The more generations these relationships have been in place the deeper and stronger the human capital.

 

That is what makes for Harvards, and economies and civilizations.  Love.

 

Thus, Africa is a growing civilization (religious practice is growing fast) while Europe and the US are diminishing civilizations.   The first is growing love more.  The latter are depleting love continuously.

 

Fifty to a hundred years from now the great migrations will be into Africa not out of it.

Will the South Ever Raise Real Men Again

family structure, fathers, religion No comments

Scratch anyone from the South and they bleed regional pride.  But the South is cause for some real heartburn:  It is, simultaneously, both the most religious-worshiping section of the country and the most family-broken section of the county as this map of American family structure makes clear. The whiter  the state (in color below) the less intact the family.

Think of the archetypal Southern man and strength and straight shooting (metaphorically speaking, though the other straight shooting come to mind too).  He is honest, tough, clear-speaking and loyal to his friends.  But the reality is most Southern men are not loyal to their children.  They don’t give them the family they need.  And even if there is a rifle in the back window of every truck shot gun weddings are as much an ancient memory in the South as anywhere else.

The fault may lie deep in the cultural icon of frontier American manhood with its ambivalence about chastity, especially for the single man. Out of wedlock births are common, almost normative.   Even pastors seem to think nothing of it, and say less.

We can have all the cultural debates we like about sexual norms and changing attitudes but the inescapable reality is our present patterns leave boys without fathers present, which gives us more young men without chests who are also cursed with small hearts.  And they in turn will sire more young men with even smaller chests and smaller hearts.  And their daughters: with absent fathers they will quickly find absent fathers for their own children. So we get double barreled single parenthood among their children.

Such is the reality of the white states in the map above.

The South needs a new culture, a new infrastructure: the man with a big heart who has the strength to make friends only with other men who are intent on bedding only one woman: the one each will marry, who will be mother to all his children, and who will likely bury him after a long and good life together.

Is the South capable of producing such men?  Are Southern public schools capable of shaping the minds of boys in that direction?  Even more: are Southern pastors capable inspiring young men to such strength, or are they too without chests even in their own churches.  Can any of them talk about chastity as love and strength?  Reality screams for this course correction, else the South will die a natural death — a natural cultural death.  Where are these modern strong men?  We all need their stories but young boys need them most.

All that religious worship needs to be harnessed.  Surely there are enough real men in the South to do so.

Dear Immigrants: Welcome to Your New Home, Especially If You Are from Africa, Asia or the Middle East

family structure, immigration No comments

Though there are many reasons to welcome immigrants to our country you can now add mental health to the list.  Children of immigrants, on average, have better mental health than the children of their new home/destination country.  Within that group, children of intact married families do best.   The largest, multi-nation-of-origin and nation-of-destination study finds that the intact married family whose members are close and supportive of each other has higher mental health than the average mental health of their destination country.  Asians, Africans and Middle Easterners all outscore the population of their new homes (England, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden).  Though Latino children have better mental health, on average, than children of their new home there is strong evidence that family intactness and cohesion is lower in Latino families than in the other immigrant groups.

Given that the US is now, predominantly, a culture of rejection within the family it is to be expected that intact immigrant families are also mentally healthier than the average US family.

It would be good to find out if immigrants to the US from Asia, Africa and the Middle East have greater family intactness than Latinos and if they also have higher mental health scores.

This European study underscores the fragility of the Latino family, which I, like most others, had always thought meant a strong family culture, at least when they first arrived in the US.  If a young teenager does not have confidence in his family he is less likely to have confidence in himself.  For leaders in Latino community the lesson is obvious: strengthen marriage.

Man is made to belong in family and thrives when he does, no matter what the color of his skin or the culture from which he comes.  It is nice to have the social sciences illustrate a universal law of nature.

MARRI’s User-Friendly Demographic Tool

Census data, education, family structure, income, MARRI, poverty, sexuality, single parents, social science, welfare No comments

Over the next few weeks we will introduce you to different tools and resources in the MARRI website.  Today we introduce you to a tool that permits you to pick out the charts you want to see at the national or state level (your own state for instance) on a number of outcomes such as poverty and welfare.

These graphs chart the changes in the American family from 1940, just before entry into World War II,  to 2013.  This is a charting of the change in American culture over time, from one of significant belonging within the family to a culture of significant levels of rejection within the family.

You can analyze these trends by
•    The nation or by any particular state;
•    By total population or broken down by ethnic group;
•    By male or female or both combined;
•    By adult or children or both combined;
•    By outcome: family structure; education (but this not for children), poverty and welfare.

There are a total of 500 charts in the tool. All the data is from the Office of the Census, drawing on decennial census data and annual survey data.

To pull up the charts that are of interest, you click on the appropriate tabs on the dashboard.  When you click on a button it will turn either blue or gold.  Gold indicates the variable you are picking.  Blue indicates a tab is turned off.  Gold is on; blue is off. Thus if I wanted education outcomes for all adult males (only) in the state of Utah, the tabs for Utah, adults, males and education would be in gold, everything else would be in blue.

By playing around with the dashboard and you will quickly see how it works.  It may take a second or two to function as the tool is “in the cloud” not in your computer.

Occasionally you will find blanks where we do not have data for a cluster of variables, e.g. on education attained for children.

Enjoy the tool, and spread the word, particularly to students!

More About the Relationship between Blacks and Their Government in Baltimore

Baltimore, crime, family structure, intact family, race, violence No comments

By Henry Potrykus

In this blog, we recently announced the release of a MARRI overview on “Violence in Baltimore.”  In one part of the overview, we focused-in on black children in Baltimore.  I produced some statistics on the family life and poverty situation these children find themselves in. This post goes into further explanatory detail on that situation.

As background let’s quote from the report:

The city of Baltimore has just under 4,000 white 15- to 17-year olds.  Just over half— nearly 2,000— have seen the break-up of their family of origin.* This is in line with the national experience.

The experience of black Baltimore teens on the cusp of adulthood is different.  Over 15,000 have seen the break-up of their biological parents.  But only 1,500 black 15- to 17-year-old residents of Baltimore have not experienced that act of rejection.  So, for every one black teen of Baltimore who does not experience family rejection, there are ten who do.  More than 90 percent of black Baltimore teens on the cusp of adulthood witness parental rejection. 

Poverty in Baltimore is strongly influenced by this gaping calamity.  The influence of family intactness (for children of any age; see “The Fifth Annual Index of Belonging and Rejection”) on the probability of a child (0- to 17-years old) being poor dwarfs the influence of race.

The influence of parental rejection is also greater than that of living only with parents who have dropped out of high school.  The “adjusted mean” level of child poverty in Baltimore is about 29 percent.** Being black raises this rate of poverty by almost 9 percent.  Living in a household only with parents who have dropped out of high school further raises this number by around 13 percent.  Living in a home where no parent has rejected the other lowers this rate of poverty by better than 15 percent, more than half the baseline rate of childhood poverty in the city.

Further Findings

Now, simple accumulation of the baseline, racial, and family relative risks of poverty, shows that family intactness brings childhood poverty among blacks in the city effectively down to the national level (around 22%).  (29 % + 9% – 15% yields less than 23%.)

In fact, the complete (technical) result is even stronger than this.  Intactness cuts poverty by more than half among black children in Baltimore.  (There is a 15 percent residual poverty rate for black children who live in their family of origin, which is below the average for the nation’s children as a whole.)***

Unsurprisingly for Baltimore, then, food stamp (SNAP) dependency and public healthcare (e.g., Medicaid) dependency are more strongly influenced by intactness than they are by the race a child is born into or by parents’ high school completion.

Regarding food stamp dependency: Family intactness shows itself to be more important than either race, or if parents have dropped out of high school. The “adjusted mean” rate of food stamp receipt in Baltimore is an impressive 42 percent for children. Living in a home where no parent has rejected the other lowers this rate of dependency by almost 17 percent.  Black children have a higher recipiency rate by almost 16 percent.  Statistically, then, intact families alleviate the need for Baltimore anti-hunger campaigns targeting minority children.  Living in a household only with parents who have dropped out of high school raises this dependency rate by almost 9 percent.

For public healthcare dependency (in the years 2008 through 2013), intactness is also more important than either race, or if parents have dropped out of high school. The “adjusted mean” rate of public healthcare enrollment in Baltimore is a yet more impressive 61 percent for children. Living in a home where no parent has rejected the other lowers this rate again by around 17 percent.  Black children have a higher enrollment rate by almost 11 percent.  Living in a household only with parents who have dropped out of high school raises the enrollment rate also by almost 9 percent.

These additional empirical facts make it plain: The major factor influencing the (difficult) condition that black children and teens on the cusp of adulthood find themselves in in Baltimore is the lack of family intactness.  This finding becomes plain by testing one influencing factor against the other – family intactness against education, intactness and education against race–as is reported on here. 

Does poverty or a lack of economic opportunity cause violence?  Perhaps dispossessed persons are more likely to riot.  Economics would certainly say that in the absence of strict-enough penalties the dispossessed are more likely to break things they don’t have an ownership interest in.  Want to fight black poverty or dispossession in Baltimore?  There’s an obvious place to start: The intact family unit.

Endnotes:

*Population counts, taken from the American Community Survey 2008-2013, are known to a precision of about +/- 200 kids.  There are 137,400 children (of any age) found in Baltimore.

**This mean is adjusted for race (i.e., if one is non-white), parents not being high-school graduates, and the intactness of a child’s family of origin.  The adjustment is computed by an ordinary least squares regression on sampled Baltimore children (N 6440; R^2 0.14). Only significant factors (p < 0.05) shall be reported for any regression.  I also tested models with controls for parental age.  The results are pretty much the same for race and family intactness’ influences (i.e. – to statistical uncertainty:  the influences reduce in magnitude by about 1.5 percent). There are fundamental, sociological reasons why these two factors behave this way; reasons I eschew elaborating on in this post.

***Intactness also nullifies most of the negative influences of having only parents who have dropped out of high school. (There is a 5 percent residual [pejorative] influence of parental education among black childhood poverty.  Intactness better than completely compensates for the influence of low parental education attainment among whites:  There is a 4 percent net reduction in poverty off the baseline when intactness is faced off against low education attainment among white parents.)

This is the result of the saturated model for the adjustment factors of the foregoing endnote (“mean adjustment computation”).

Violence in Baltimore Report

Baltimore, family structure, marriage, violence 1 comment

This week, MARRI released a report looking at the social science behind the violence in Baltimore. This report offers a different outlook on the social issues surrounding Baltimore than many other institutions. It shows that family intactness, education, and economic outcomes are a far higher predictor of violence and crime than race. The following is an excerpt from that report:

There is a clear and even desperate need to restore marriage among the poor in inner-city Baltimore. This task, however, is beyond the competence of government. That is not a fault in government—it is the nature of the problem.  No one goes to government for love.

Marital stability depends on affection, care, loyalty and sexual fidelity, which is formed in the home. If the City Councils, the State of Maryland, or federal Cabinet members want to combat the social collapse of American cities, they must ask parents, church leaders, school principals and teachers to take on this work of the mind and heart.

An impoverished boy from inner-city Baltimore will not escape criminal activity because the city of Baltimore receives a stimulus bill from the President; he will escape it if a caring teacher, compassionate pastor, or thoughtful adult mentors him so that he feels the support necessary to finish school, work at a job, and marry the mother of his children.

Government is not capable of doing everything, and clearly does not know how to heal the social brokenness of such communities.  It will continue to fail the youth of Baltimore unless it looks to other institutions—the church, the school, the family and the influential business leaders—to restore the family by restoring marriage in inner city Baltimore.  Until that day comes the problems will only worsen; but when that day does come hope will already have arrived.

To read our entire analysis on the violence in Baltimore, visit our website: http://www.marri.us/baltimore-violence

Family Structure IS Still the Problem

black family, Council on Contemporary Families, family structure, single mothers No comments

In a recent online symposium entitled “Moynihan +50: Family Structure Still Not the Problem” the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) dismissed family structure as a trivial factor in the social and economic woes of Black families. But federal data paints a different picture: In 2012, only 30 percent of Black 2 year olds lived with their married parents, and only 17 percent of Black 17 year olds grew up in intact families. These numbers are far from insignificant. Contrary to CCF’s claim, Moynihan’s cry for a rejuvenation of intact Black families remains as pertinent and critical today.

The CCF’s report is inundated with straw man arguments and misleading data:

First, the CCF misrepresents Moynihan’s argument. William Chafe incorrectly claims that “Moynihan seemed to suggest that if blacks would only get and stay married they would cease to be poor…” But neither Moynihan nor any other sociologist that I am aware of believes that married families are the one and only end-all solution for all social ills in the Black community. Rather, Moynihan asserted that family brokenness is a significant contributor to poor outcomes, that family structure was being ignored as an important factor, and that no policy proposal that disregards the family would provide an enduring solution. Even Philip Cohen, Heidi Hartmann, Jeff Hayes, and Chandra Childers (contributors to the symposium) concede that “family structure is one key factor that determines the economic resources available to adults and children.” So, if we can agree that family structure is a key factor that is being ignored, it’s quite reasonable to posit that family structure is at the heart of the problem.

Second, the CCF cherry-picks data to make its ideologically-driven point. For example, the CCF claims that family structure cannot greatly influence crime rates because data from the Current Population Survey shows that the share of Black single mothers has risen in past decades while data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (that does not even account for family structure) shows that juvenile violent crime arrests has decreased. This is a poor use of data. Research by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute that ran regressions on specific variables using the American Community Survey found that family intactness is the most important, or at least as important, as any other factor in determining a beneficial outcome. Education attainment, another key factor, is largely related to family structure: most Black adults in their first marriage receive a professional degree, but most always-single adults are high school drop-outs (see graphs below).

The social sciences well done cannot but illustrate the way God made man. Family structure is not the only factor that influences that state of Black families in America, but it is the most encompassing. Good social science has and will continue to uphold the intact, married family as a vital component to social and economic stability.

How the Breakdown of the American Family Fosters Racial Inequalities

Census data, family structure, inequality, race No comments
In the 1960s radical groups, including many feminists, conspired to tear down the traditional, married family; little did they know they were simultaneously igniting some of the worst racial divisions America could imagine.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau on living arrangements analyzed by Nicholas Zill, 58 percent of U.S. children live with their married birth parents, followed by 23 percent that live with their birth mother (only), 5 percent that live with a birth parent and stepparent, 4 percent that live with cohabiting birth parents, and 4 percent that live with their birth father (only). Radical groups are slowly, but surely, falsely positioning marriage as a patriarchal ritual of the past.

Despite how passionately radicals argue that mothers do not need husbands or that romantic partners are fine cohabiting, marriage remains an indispensable institution that holds together the social fabric of our nation. Unfortunately, however, this fabric is fraying disproportionately across the races, as Zill illustrates.

According to the 2014 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey, 80 percent of Asian children live with their married birth parents, followed by 68 percent of White children and 52 percent of Hispanic children. Only 29 percent of Black children lived with their married birth parents in 2014. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 50 percent of Black children lived with their birth mother (only), followed by 27 percent of Hispanic children, 15 percent of White children, and 9 percent of Asian children.

The large variation in living arrangements across the four major race/ ethnic groups has deep-seated and far-reaching consequences on racial gaps. To begin, family structure is closely related to government dependence—roughly three quarters of welfare assistance goes to single-parent families. Family structure is also associated with educational achievement, the gateway to future economic success. Four times as many individuals who came from intact, married families received a Bachelor’s degree than individuals who came from always-single parent families. Those in single-parent families are more likely to engage in risk behavior, commit criminal acts, drink, and use drugs.

Because there is such a clear-cut difference in the living arrangements of the races, social outcomes are quite easily predictable across these four groups. While Asian families are able to exercise individual agency in flourishing environments, many Black families tend to be at the mercy of the government in dangerous environments. While most Asian parents begin their child’s life by developing and cultivating their talents, many Black parents spend their children’s early years struggling to make ends meet.

There certainly is an unjust inequality among the races, but it is not the inequality of outcome that most media outlets discuss. Rather, it is an inequality of opportunity, even a lost opportunity, for many children to experience the irreplaceable married love of their mother and father.

Abortion and Family Structure: Two Inseparable Issues

abortion, family structure No comments

Abortion and family structure—two leading social issues of our day—are sometimes pitted as mutually exclusive issues. However, statistics mined by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) challenge this hypothesis. The National Survey of Family Growth (a large survey conducted by National Center for Health Statistics division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) showed that, among women aged 38 to 44, having had multiple abortions was least common among those raised in an intact family with two married biological parents.

MARRI’s “Mapping America” highlights two noteworthy points. First, women who were raised in married families with their mother and father present were least likely to have had multiple abortions than women from all other family structures (see Chart 1). The average American agrees, at the very least, that abortion is not a good to be sought after. Still, some liberal propagandists claim that it is not possible to decrease abortions and increase the number of intact families. According to them, unmarried women will inevitably get pregnant, and, unless the woman aborts her child, she will be a single mother. However, this logic is missing a key point: if more women were raised in intact married families to begin with, then fewer women would get pregnant out of wedlock. Decreasing abortion—a commonsense goal regardless of one’s stance on the sanctity of life—necessitates an increase in the number of intact families.

Chart 1

A second compelling point Mapping America highlights is the inherent value of marriage and the insufficiency of cohabitation. Chart 2 shows that roughly the same number of women raised by their biological father alone and with no father figure at all had multiple abortions. Most interesting, multiple abortions were least common among women raised by their biological father married to their biological mother, and most common among women raised by their biological father cohabiting with their biological mother. In fact, four times as many women with cohabiting parents rather than married parents had abortions. Although both groups of women were raised by their biological mother and father in a close relationship, the nature of the relationship contributed to very different outcomes. 

Chart 2

Far from being unrelated to abortion, family structure contributes to sexual mores that impact the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and abortions. An intact, married family is a social good that must be sought after in all instances.