Single Parents Hinder Social Mobility, Harvard Study Claims

Single parents are the biggest obstacle to achieving social mobility and moving out of poverty, according to a new Harvard University study. Moving up the “income ladder” is more difficult for children not raised by married parents, the researchers reportedly found. Children raised by both parents were also found to have increased rates of upward mobility if they lived in communities with fewer single parents, according to excerpts from the parenting study.

The Harvard study does not claim that all children raised in single parent households are doomed to a life of poverty, but maintains that data suggests they are at increased risk of falling into the low-income bracket. According to the study statistics being raised in a single parent household is a much larger factor that income inequality when it comes to social mobility. The report further states that income inequality was not a “statistically significant predictor” for social mobility.

An excerpt from the “Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States” study:

“The fraction of children living in single-parent households is the strongest correlate of upward income mobility’ among all the variables the research team explored.”

The study utilized data from federal income tax records spanning 1996 to 2012. The report also notes that in most parts of Texas higher rates of upward mobility were found. Ohio presented fewer upward social mobility rates than neighboring Pennsylvania. South Dakota was also an upward mobility leader with the exception of the southwest corner of the state where large Native American reservations are located.

A Pew Research Center poll also found that there is a nationwide decline of the family unit. Libertarian author Charles Murray’s controversial best-sellers also contend that the cultural decline and societal norms in America are directly related to the state of the American family. The Pew Research Center family study at least inadvertently supports Murray’s decades of research on the topic -the family represents not only the backbone of the nation, but the building blocks of the community.

Charles Murray had this to say about the state of marriage in the United States:

“Starting in 1970, marriage took a nosedive that lasted for nearly twenty years. Among all whites ages 30-49, only 13 percent were not living with spouses as of 1970, Twenty years later, that proportion had more than doubled, to 27 percent — a change in a core social institution that has few precedents for magnitude and speed. From the founding until well into the twentieth century, it was unquestioned that children should be born only within marriage and that failure to maintain that state of affairs would produce catastrophic consequences for society.”

Since the 1960s, the American family has been on a downward spiral, according to the statistics noted by both Pew and Murray.

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