A Regressive “Progressive” Report

Brad Wilcox
Brad Wilcox

Sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox (Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia) has a piece at National Review on the new Shriver Report. The report suggests that “government, business, and other institutions must accommodate themselves to the “profound change in the makeup and reality of American families,” especially the dramatic increase in single motherhood.” Wilcox points out “three profoundly unequal and regressive trends in American life” that would result from the “deal with change” proposals of the report:

  1. Parenting will become primarily the work of women via single motherhood.
  2. Children remain in an intergenerational cycle of poverty.
  3. A whole class of children will face higher amounts of social and emotional trauma.

See the piece for details why.

2 thoughts on “A Regressive “Progressive” Report”

  1. I’d like to look more closely at this literature sometime to see the extent to which other communal factors can compensate for struggling factors.

    Wilcox elsewhere mentions that Chetty’s study corroborates the findings of other socioeconomic research with regard to school quality, socioeconomic inequality, racial integration, and social infrastructure/capital as all having a significant impact also.

    I suspect that, over time, those with liberal political leanings will continue to argue that social services must provide help for families that are struggling, while those with conservative political leanings will argue that strengthening the family should be the more important social and political agenda. But my sense is that both of these sides of the debate are supported–and will continue to be supported–by empirical research….

  2. Glad you linked to the Slate article, Robert! The Equality of Opportunity Project is a huge deal. They find that family structure has the biggest affect on economic mobility. The safety net has helped in many ways.

    But even in Sweden (the egalitarian utopia), family instability leads to increased psychological problems, drug abuse, suicide, etc. Furthermore, it leads to reduced annual income and educational attainment.

    I have no problem with a safety net per se. I have a problem with thinking that that is the answer to all our problems.

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