WASHINGTON – The Pew Research Center just provided fresh data about the American family. Well, we sort of knew that the classic “nuclear family” is no longer the dominant model.
But here are some almost incredible facts about the growing number of children raised by unwed mothers. The national average is now 41%. Among Black women the ratio is 72%. This is truly stunning.
Let’s leave aside any moral considerations about the vanishing of “traditional families”, about the loss of once “sacred values”, and so on. Let’s focus, however, on the socio-economic impact of the rising number of children raised by single mothers.
Well educated mothers would have no problems raising kids
In principle, if we could assume that all or most single mothers were well-educated, with good jobs and therefore able to pay for quality day care for their kids, there should be no major problems.
If we could assume that these children are indeed taken care of, if we could stipulate that they will have access to good health care and later on a good education, then their future prospects should be at least within the national average.
Poverty delivers more poverty
But unfortunately it is not so. In most cases, single mothers, and especially young Black mothers, are poor and uneducated. Sure enough, there are social programs that provide some support. But never enough to make a real difference.
And therefore the most common reality is that the majority of Black children are raised in poverty or semi-poverty. As they grow up, they can expect to get only a mediocre or bad education.
Most of them will not finish high school. Many will become involved in petty crime, or worse, ending up in jail. Overall, this means that the majority will have only very limited jobs or career opportunities as adults. In other words, they will be poor and marginalized. And this means that poverty is carried from one generation to the next without any real chance of breaking the cycle.
While some of the 72% of Black women who have children alone may be resourceful and able to escape poverty, therefore giving real chances to their children, most of them will not.
Of course, poverty has many causes. However, a growing number of poor young mothers, with little or no education, trying to raise babies on their own, do not help to improve the picture.
They are poor and their poor children most likely will be poor adults.