I. The Decline of the American Family
II. The Cost of Fatherlessness
III. The Increase in Single-Parent Families
More Births Out of Wedlock
High Divorce Rate
IV. Guiding Principles for Strengthening Traditional Families
V. The Need to Strengthen Traditional Families
“Trends in marriage are important not just with regard to the organization of communities, but because they are associated with large effects on the socialization of the next generation. No matter what the outcome being examined – the quality of the mother-infant relationship, externalizing behavior in childhood (aggression, delinquency, and hyperactivity), delinquency in adolescence, criminality as adults, illness and injury in childhood, early mortality, sexual decision-making in adolescence, school problems and dropping out, emotional health, or any other measure of how well or poorly children do in life – the family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married.”
– Charles A. Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960
2010. New York, NY: Crown Forum, 2012. p. 159.
Over the past decade and a half, the rate of fatherlessness in Massachusetts has continued to rise. This has occurred despite awareness of the dramatic social and financial costs that come with it. So why has this costly trend persisted?
The increase in single-parent families is partly due to high rates of marital separation and divorce, as it always has been. But three newer trends are also at play: a decline in the marriage rate, a decline in the birth rate, and a greater cultural acceptance of and complacency towards having and raising children outside marriage.61