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On the WSJ article, my interpretation was the author was lamenting the woeful job we have done with the underclass, but was concerned because he felt the programs are not addressing the root cause, which he identified as:

*Why has the proportion of unsocialized young males risen so relentlessly? In large part, I would argue, because the proportion of young males who have grown up without fathers has also risen relentlessly. The indicator here is the illegitimacy ratio--the percentage of live births that occur to single women. It was a minuscule 4% in the early 1950s, and it has risen substantially in every subsequent decade. The ratio reached the 25% milestone in 1988 and the 33% milestone in 1999. As of 2003, the figure was 35%--of all births, including whites. The black illegitimacy ratio in 2003 was 68%. By way of comparison: The illegitimacy ratio that caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to proclaim the breakdown of the black family in the early 1960s was 24%.

But illegitimacy is now common throughout the population, right? No, it is heavily concentrated in low-income groups. Perhaps illegitimacy isn't as bad as we used to think it was? No, during the last decade the evidence about the problems caused by illegitimacy has grown stronger. What about all the good news about falling teenage births? About plunging welfare rolls? Both trends are welcome, but neither has anything to do with the proportion of children being born and raised without fathers, and that proportion is the indicator that predicts the size of the underclass in the next generation."

(I've got to figure out how to put these quotes in a neat little box like all you do--I had it, but then lost the notes--I'm an idiot on this techy stuff.)

I doubt this is the single cause, but it is shocking to see the illegitimacy rate going from 3% in the '50's to 35% today.  Just intuitively, this seems like it has to be a major impact on the developing underclass.  But talk about a difficult problem to solve--Wow!

by wchurchill on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 03:07:45 AM EST
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