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CULTURE: Parent-attention gap behind class divide

Fascinating piece in The Atlantic online this morning about what’s behind the class chasm in America.

The magazine holds that a major reason for the class divide in this country is the number of kids born into single-parent families. Or put another way, single-parent families and less parental time spent with kids are both cause and effect of the class divide.

More-educated people are more likely to get married later, and form lasting two-parent families, the magazine states. Educated parents are spending more time with their kids. (A frightening statistic is that 72 percent of African-American children are born into single-parent families; the number is 53 percent for Hispanics and 33 percent for whites, according to the magazine.)

A divorce divide — the growing amount of divorce among less-educated parents — is a factor in the class divide as well, the magazine states.

According to the magazine: “It’s no coincidence that rising inequality in the home has been occurring at precisely the same time as rising inequality in the workplace. These two kinds of social polarization – one cultural, the other economic – are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.”

The lesson: Those who invest in themselves and wait to get married and do not have children out of wedlock or some committed long-term relationship, do better economically. Or the flip side: more education and a better economic situation lead to wiser economic choices, such as waiting for a committed relationship to have children, and having fewer of them.

As someone who waited until 46 to get married and have a child — and then only one — I find this no surprise.

In many areas of highest crime and greatest poverty, young, single-parent families predominate — as they do among gang members I’ve interviewed.

Men, in particular, aren’t ready to get married, emotionally or economically, until their 30s at least, I’ve always felt, though I know this sounds like I’m drawing a universal case from my own life example.


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