family structure

family structure

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.

The Root of Wealth Inequality: Race or Family Upbringing?

family structure, Great Recession, Pew Research, race, religion, wealth inequality No comments

According to a recent Pew report, the racial/ ethnic wealth divide has widened since the Great Recession. Commentators have already begun to speculate plausible rationales for this gap: inability for minorities to replenish savings, differences in financial assets, or disparate accumulations of wealth. But each of these explanations evades the two root issues at hand: family structure and frequency of religious worship.

Family structure. The intact, married family consistently produces the best economic benefits and averts financial woes. Pew’s report measured race/ ethnicity without controlling for family structure. Because the rate of family intactness is higher among whites (54 percent) than blacks (17 percent) and Hispanics (41 percent), “whites” as a racial class seemed best off.

However, as Chart 1 shows, family structure cannot be ignored. Marriage is associated with lower rates of poverty, independent of race. So, for example, the poverty rate for single white mothers is three times higher than the poverty rate for married black families. Further investigation will likely show that the true wealth divide following the Great Recession is between intact and non-intact families, especially single mothers on welfare. As Sheldon Danziger concluded back in 1986, families on welfare are stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty because their income is disconnected from the market-based economy. Even if the economy improves, the welfare recipient’s income remains stagnant.

The importance of family structure in an improving economy is conveyed in the Iowa Youth and Families Project, widely regarded as having the richest archive of life record data on rural families and children in the United States. Over a series of decades, researchers collected data on two-parent families during and after the Iowa Farm Crisis—the worst decline in America since the 1930s. They found that the children from two-parent families from Iowa farms, despite faring worse than any other group, improved the most due to their strong family relations, productive roles, ties to grandparents, ties to their community, and resourcefulness. Recovery from the Great Recession is linked to similar familial and community factors.

Frequency of religious worship. The intact married family may fare well following economic recessions, but the intact married family that worships frequently will fare best during and after these times of difficulty. Couples whose marriages lasted 30 years or more reported that their faith helped them to deal with hard times, and was a source of moral guidance in making decisions and dealing with conflict. Adolescents whose mothers attend religious services at least weekly display better health, greater problem-solving skills, and higher overall satisfaction with their lives, regardless of race, gender, income, or family structure. An increase in religious practice is associated with greater hope and a greater sense of purpose in life, and religious affiliation and regular church attendance are among the most common reasons people give to explain their own happiness.

Beyond personal hope and well-being, religiosity confers many benefits on society as a whole. Religious attendance is associated with direct decreases in both minor and major forms of crime and deviance, to an extent unrivalled by government welfare programs. Religious individuals are 40 percent more likely than their secular counterparts to give money to charities. Compared to their secular counterparts, religious individuals are more than twice as likely to volunteer. Recovering from a depleted economy requires communal support; this support is most readily available in communities with high levels of religious participation … something that is free to anyone who wants it.

Pew’s study of wealth inequality is certainly thought-provoking; however, it is futile to discover such gaps in society if we fail to cure their causes. Reviving all of society following the Great Recession mandates an immediate attention to restoring the intact married family that worships frequently.