Monday, January 19, 2009

The 100 billion dollar man?

In the last 50 years in America the number of children living in single-mother families increased from 8% to 26%. 34% of American children now live separately from their biological father.

Last year the first study into the direct financial costs of this shift to single-mother families was released. It found that the median household income of married couples with children was $65,906 but only $27,244 for single-mothers with children. 39.3% of single mothers lived in poverty compared to only 8.8% of father-present families.

The researchers looked at 13 public welfare programmes aimed at those living in poverty, such as food stamps, energy assistance and rental assistance, and found that $100 billion per annum was being spent to support single-mother households.

It's one more reason why the traditional family should remain the ideal - the model which a society aims for and encourages.


  1. This is a good reason why the nuclear family should be the ideal to you. If, however you see the expansion of the state and regulation of private lives as a good thing it's pretty clear that single motherhood is the way to go.

    Most people look at this and say; "if it weren't for single mothers we wouldn't need to spend this $100 billion" but a better formulation might be "if we didn't spend that $100 billion would we have all these single mothers?". If you're part of a left-liberal establishment that gains influence and prestige from an enlarged state those single mothers are an essential resource. Then you'd seek to encourage single motherhood any way you could.

    Ordinary families with a father supporting a wife and child and not wanting or needing interference from the state are the last thing the modern technocratic state wants.


  2. I've just read the Report. Nock, I believe, was also a co-author of a study on marriage and happiness. One thing that struck me reading this one is that, even if we, say ban abortion and make divorce hard or almost impossible, the society we're in now would actually have more problems because the people in it simply would;t discharge their duties as fathers/husbands etc. It could even lead to more friction and thus an increase in domestic violence. The crux of all this is culture, where the culture has eroded, it needs many generations to re-build. We truly are in the decline of the West. Spengler was right; and he was writing in 1926!

  3. It found that the median household income of married couples with children was $65,906 but only $27,244 for single-mothers with children.

    I find it very difficult to believe that a large part of this is effect and not cause; men who can pull the lion's share of $65k usually have their life in order and are less likely to be divorced/more attractive marriage targets.

    This is not to say that the current state of affairs (or the trends leading into the future) are to the applauded, merely that it is difficult to draw rigorous "social science" conclusions at all.

  4. Correlation is not causation. Women who have children out of wedlock tend to be more impulsive and less future-oriented. These are factors that lead to a lower income, if not welfare.

    Yes, there are single mothers who have typical 'middle-class' values (frugality, thrift, planning, budgeting, etc). But most don't. If you met these women, you would soon realize that it would take much more than a husband to get their lives in order.

  5. Canadian, the point though is that 50 years ago things actually were different. Only 8% of women lived as single mothers and therefore were at least partly (more likely mostly) provided for by a working husband rather than by the state.

    Therefore the shift toward an ever larger percentage of single mother families is adding considerably to the costs borne by the state - to the tune (in direct costs alone) of $100 billion a year.

  6. Peter B, that's a good insight. For the liberal state there are advantages to welfare dependent single mother families in comparison to traditional families. Such families exist in a closer, more dependent relationship with the top-down, universal system of management preferred by liberal technocrats.

  7. As the great conservative G.W. Bush said from the outset:

    "Single Moms have the toughest job in the world so that's why we have to help them."

    Funny that he never bothered mentioning the word "responsibility".

    It's no wonder our state of affairs is in such disarray.

  8. Did the study take in to account actual income? Most of these studies don't list alimony and child support as income for the single mother as the male pays the taxes, thus grossly undervalue the single mother.