In 1980, about 18 percent of births were to unmarried women; by 2009, the proportion was 41 percent. Among whites, the increase was from 11 percent to 36 percent; among African Americans, from 56 percent to 72 percent; among Hispanics, from 37 percent (1990) to 53 percent. Or look at the share of children living with two parents. Since 1970, that’s dropped from 82 percent to 63 percent. Among whites, the decline is from 87 percent to 73 percent; among African Americans, from 57 percent to 31 percent; among Hispanics, from 78 percent to 57 percent.And marriage rates are falling partly because working-class men are less desirable partners:
From 1979 to 2010, inflation-adjusted hourly wages for men age 25 to 39 with only a high school diploma fell 20 percent, while the wages of similar women rose 1 percent. Among those with some college (but no bachelor’s degree), women’s wages were up 8 percent; men’s were down 8 percent. As important, fewer men and more women proportionally have jobs. From 1979 to 2007 — prior to the recession — the share of male high school graduates with jobs fell 9 percentage points; job-holding by similar women rose 9 percentage points. For those with some college, men were down 6 percentage points, women up by 12 percentage points.If anybody has a serious plan for getting us out of this vicious cycle, I'm all ears.
Women have adjusted better than men to an economy with more office work and less factory, construction and transportation activity. Economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman fear these changes are now feeding on themselves. On average, children in single-parent homes do worse — have lower grades, do more drugs, have higher arrest rates — than similar children raised by two parents, who can devote more money and time to their offspring. Boys seem especially at risk because they often lack “a positive or stable same-sex role model,” say Autor and Wasserman. So boys will do less well in school and less well (later) in the labor market. They will then be less appealing as husbands.