Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Conservatives Continue To Get It Backwards

Andrew Sullivan pointed out an interview of Ross Douthat at Newsweek from which he got the following quote.
If you look at the marriage rates in the 1950s and 1960s across social classes, the upper-middle class, the working class and the poor all got married and divorced at about the same rate. The all had children in wedlock or out of wedlock at about the same rate. That's changed dramatically over the past 50 years. So upper-middle-class Americans are still behaving like bourgeois, 1950s surburbanites. They're getting married, they have low divorce rates, they're very unlike to have children out of wedlock. That's not true for the working class. What you see in the white working class, in fact, is a trajectory that parallels, in alarming ways, what the black working class went through in terms of collapsing marriage rates and out-of-wedlock birth rates in the 1960s and 1970s. So we argue that that's one of the biggest challenges facing the American working class, and it's at the root of a lot of the inequality and a lot of the economic anxiety that are big factors in this election year.
They claim that the divorce rate is a big factor in the inequality in our society. But research indicates that they have got the direction of causation backwards. The prime causes of divorce are low income and income volatility. The union busting done by Regan and his successors that increased job insecurity, and the wage stagnation caused by our increasingly regressive tax structure (if you look at all taxes and not just the income tax) championed by the GOP cause the family breakdown they try to blame on liberals.

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