“…in the current discussions about increased inequality, few researchers, fewer reporters, and no one in the executive branch of government directly addresses what seems to be the strongest statistical correlate of inequality in the United States: the rise of single-parent families during the past half century.” [“Ignoring an Inequality Culprit: Single-Parent Families” by Robert Maranto and Michael Crouch, WSJ, April 21, 2014]
The authors review the reasons many researchers, associations, conferences and studies offer for increased inequality–residential segregation, free markets, the decline of unions and neo-liberalism–while saying that these researchers leave out one of the main causes–single parent families.
The authors ask why “Intellectuals fretting about income disparity are oddly silent regarding the decline of the two-parent family.”
They give several possible reasons: first that intellectual elites lean to the left and it’s not fashionable or profitable (research grants, promotions) to be so conservative as to criticize a “lifestyle” like being a single parent family; second, there are more single parent families among blacks and Hispanics so bringing up single parent families as a cause for inequality could sound racist; third, they say there is no quick fix for reducing the number of single parent families so researchers don’t want to wade into a problem where they can’t offer some solution that can show results now.
Let me add another reason that intellectuals and politicians and economists and religious leaders are silent–One of the main causes of family break-ups is infidelity, or to use a less fancy word, affairs, or to use an even less fancy word, cheating. And some of these intellectuals and thought leaders were or are unfaithful in their relationships, had affairs and cheated on their spouse.
Our societal, religious, and legals standards say this is wrong. So to bring it up causes guilt, shame, fear and possibly being accused of the pot calling the kettle black.
Even though an affair can be considered only human, and affairs are not uncommon, and sometimes they are regarded with envy and fascination, still if it’s in your background or your present, it’s difficult to discuss, threatening, and scary. It it hits too close to home, no matter whether national leader or the man or woman next door, it’s uncomfortable and people are reluctant to talk about it.