Every now and then you see a statistic that illustrates a societal challenge in stark terms. Yesterday, Brad Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, tweeted data from the Current Population Survey showing that 95 percent of upper-income moms are married, 76 percent of middle-income moms are married, and only 35 percent of lower-income moms are married.
That’s a shocking disparity, but it makes a certain kind of immediate intuitive sense. After all, many married families are dual-income. Of course they’re going to have an economic advantage over single moms. Married families with present fathers don’t just provide disproportionate emotional and psychological benefits to children, but are also more economically stable.
But it’s one thing to say, as I did earlier this week, that rebuilding America’s marriage culture is an “urgent matter of economic opportunity and stability.” It’s another thing entirely to think through how we can address the marriage gap and change the course of so many American lives.
And we can’t think of the how without considering the plight of America’s working-class men. It’s a fact that fatherlessness harms boys. It’s a fact that men are falling behind women in educational attainment. It’s a fact that men are imprisoned in large numbers in this country. It’s also a fact that men are disproportionately likely to abuse illicit drugs.