New Social Class Division: Married vs Single Parent
The premise of the article is that a correlation exists between one's net worth and one's marital status, particularly among women; married two-parent households tend to do better economically than single parent households.
Beyond just stating the obvious, the article profiled two local families: a married couple located in Livingston County, and a single mother living in Ann Arbor. The NYT cited to statistics suggesting a rapid growth in single-parent households.
What struck us as relevant in the article is the nearly explosive growth of single-parent households. Once reserved for the "bottom quadrant" of the lower class, single-parent households have experienced the most growth in the second quadrant, among the so-called "working class".
Jason DeParl's article detailed the child rearing advantages of a two-parent household, not just from the standpoint of two incomes, but also from a time and availability perspective. DeParl sites to statistics that show the long range benefits gained by children raised in a two parent household. These include better average education and higher self esteem.
By the end of the article, I felt truly sorry for the children of the single mother in Ann Arbor. That mom struggled to make ends meet and to provide basic extra curricular opportunities for her children. The married Livingston County couple, on the other hand, used their dual incomes to provide their children with a host of enriching activities in which both parents participated.
The trend cited in the article is that the wealthier among us are more inclined to embark upon building a family under traditional means: marriage, with both parents contributing to the economic and social development of the children. For the less wealthy among us, single-parenthood looms as a growing specter, with the promise of begetting more single-parent households, as the children born into these arrangements tend to eschew traditional marriage, and embrace the same living arrangement as the parent who raised them.
The article draws no conclusions about our ever-present high rate of divorce and is silent as to how divorce affects the long-term health of family members, particularly children. We here at the Law Blogger believe divorce is perhaps the most significant factor in one's marital status.
As a caveat to this thesis, Mr. DeParl does point out, however, that 2 of our last 3 presidents came from single-parent households.