Early Parenthood Research Paper

These gaps tend to persist as children move through school and pose enormous challenges to teachers and other school personnel.

We need to focus attention on what happens to a child long before he or she starts school.

One reason that education may help to increase marriage rates is that the better-educated tend to have more egalitarian gender roles, which makes marriage more appealing, especially to women.

For women who work outside the home, flexible parenting arrangements help them avoid having to “do it all” and the resentment that engenders.

So more and better education is one clear path to reducing unwed parenthood and the growth of single-parent families in the future. Education clearly improves the economic prospects of men and women, making them more marriageable.

But the commonly heard argument that the declining economic prospects of men are the culprit in this story about unwed births is too simple.

Rates of unwed childbearing and divorce are much lower among well-educated than among less-educated women.

The proportion of first births that occur outside of marriage is only 12 percent for those who are college graduates but 58 percent for everyone else.

Moynihan was especially concerned about the large number of boys growing up in “broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future….” Recent research suggests that boys are indeed more affected than girls by the lack of a male role model in the family. The full series will appear in our Spring 2015 issue to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 release of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” (generally referred to as the Moynihan Report). Indeed, they have “trickled up” to encompass not just a much larger fraction of the African American community but a large swath of the white community as well. The proportion of black children born outside marriage was 72 percent in 2012, while the white proportion was 36 percent (see “Was Moynihan Right? The effects on children of the increase in single parents is no longer much debated.Fifty years ago, in 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan presciently warned that the breakdown of the family was becoming a key source of disadvantage in the African American community. They do less well in school, are less likely to graduate, and are more likely to be involved in crime, teen pregnancy, and other behaviors that make it harder to succeed in life.If young adults had more education, there would be less drifting and fewer unwed births.And if there were better family planning, young people could finish their schooling.Starting earlier means focusing on what occurs before a child enters any form of schooling, including a pre-K program.Let’s call the prior period pre-pre-K, a term coined by my colleague Richard Reeves. During this period, development is rapid, and the home environment looms large. Some parenting or home-visiting programs have improved the quality of parenting and thus a child’s later outcomes, including readiness for school.Not all human-capital development occurs in a classroom; some of it occurs in the home.Children from underprivileged backgrounds typically start school way behind their more-fortunate peers.Not every child raised by a single parent will suffer from the experience, but, on average, a lone parent has fewer resources—both time and money—with which to raise a child.Poverty rates for single-parent families are five times those for married-parent families (see “Was Moynihan Right? The growth of such families since 1970 has increased the overall child poverty rate by about 5 percentage points (from 20 to 25 percent).

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