A New York Times editorial argues that liberals need to admit that single-parent families are major “drivers” of child poverty — and that young people with married parents generally fare much better.
- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published an article Wednesday titled, “The One Privilege Liberals Ignore.”
- Kristof referred to a new book published next week by Melissa S. Kearney, an economist at the University of Maryland, titled: “Two-Parent Privilege.”
- Kristof and Kearney say liberals have a “blind spot” when it comes to two-parent families and view supporting the institution as racist and divisive.
American liberals must accept that single-parent families are more likely to raise their children in poverty, an influential New York Times columnist has argued.
Nick Kristof said the fact was taboo among progressives, who feared being labeled racist if they admitted it.
Black families are statistically more likely than white, Hispanic or Asian families to be single parents: less than half of black children lived with two married parents in 2020, according to the last census.
Only 38 percent of black children live with married parents.
And while 62 percent of white children live in low-poverty areas and their fathers are present in most homes, only 4 percent of black children do.
“We have had a blind spot for a long time,” Kristof wrote, in a column published Wednesday.
“We are often reluctant to acknowledge one of the main drivers of child poverty – the widespread breakdown of families – for fear it will be patronizing or racist.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a column Wednesday on single-parent families and the correlation with child poverty.
Kristof noted that single mothers raising children are five times more likely to live in poverty than married families.
Children raised in single-parent homes are less likely to graduate from high school or college, and more likely to become single parents themselves.
Kristof is referring to a new book published next week by Melissa S. Kearney, an economist at the University of Maryland, titled: “Two-Parent Privilege.”
Kristof calls Kearney’s book “important.”
“The data presents uncomfortable realities,” she writes.
“Two-parent families are beneficial for children. Places with more two-parent families have higher rates of upward mobility. Not talking about these facts is counterproductive.
The author noted that many liberals “talk the left but walk the right” – they insist that single-parent families are no different from married families, but usually end up marrying and raising children in a nuclear family traditional.
Children raised by single parents are statistically poorer and less likely to graduate from high school or college.
Kristof noted that many people raised in single-parent families have been successful, including Barack Obama.
“And I think the main driver of the increase in single-parent households is poor decisions by policymakers that have led to mass incarceration and a collapse in the incomes of working-class men,” Kristof wrote.
But, he pointed out, those who highlighted the problems of single-parent families had been “denounced by liberals for racism and victim-blaming” as early as 1965, when New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan – who had been raised in the poverty by a single mother – wrote about the decline of black marriages and warned of possible social breakdown that would result.
“One of the advantages of a two-parent family is simply an arithmetic function: two parents can earn two incomes, which means less poverty,” Kristof wrote.
He stressed that America was an exception: out of 130 countries surveyed by Pew in 2019the United States had the lowest rates of two-parent families.
Kristof said one way to improve the situation was to increase the income of poorly educated men, to make them more “marriageable.”
“Family breakdown, primarily among low-income Americans, may be uncomfortable to talk about, but it is part of the system of inequality in the United States,” he concluded.
“It doesn’t help to look the other way, ignore the data, and deny the existence of two-parent privilege.”