Full piece here (originally posted in 2013).
Our authors may be following Charles Murray’s lead, which he outlined in ‘Coming Apart:’
‘In fact, a key part of the explanation for the struggles of today’s working and lower middle classes in the U.S. is delayed marriage. When the trend toward later marriage first took off in the 1970s, most of these young men and women delayed having children, much as they had in the past. But by 2000, there was a cultural shift. They still put off their weddings, but their childbearing—not so much. Fifty-eight percent of first births among this group are now to unmarried women.’
Many women in college and in the professions are delaying marriage and child-bearing. They can generally afford to put off marriage in pursuit of education and career (though they can’t wait too long and many are accruing tremendous student-loan debt). The women without such opportunities and who aren’t in college or the professions, generally aren’t putting off having children for too long on the analysis above, but they are putting off marriage.
This can have consequences for all of us.
One of the things we’re potentially doing: Creating a two-tiered society, one of low-skilled, lower educated folks whom we perhaps ought to encourage into marriage, and the other full of higher skilled, better educated folks who will probably get married anyways, after putting career first.
Of course, implicit in the above quotation is the idea that conservatives are already losing the debate: The coveted sweet spot in the middle and upper-middle class mind in America, which tends to guide our social institutions, laws, and politics is not currently well occupied by particularly religious, nor traditional, nor conservative ideas.
For better or for worse. Til’ death do us part.
The newer social model (often driven by radical discontents) hasn’t addressed many problems that the old social model may have addressed. On Murray’s view, perhaps we’re in danger of losing much in the way of economic dynamism as a result (to which I’ve found very few women in my time who wish to go back to 1963, which Murray doesn’t suggest we do, and relatively fewer women willing to call themselves feminists or address the radicalism inherent in feminism head-on).
Our authors continue:
‘But to truly move forward, educators, employers, policy makers, parents, entertainment leaders and young adults themselves need to join together in launching a national conversation about bringing down the childbearing rate of unmarried women and men in their 20s. Such campaigns aren’t just talk. They worked for dealing with teen pregnancy, and they can work again.’
The ending comes off a little weak.
Here’s Murray discussing Coming Apart:
***Having been asked to watch a few clips of the then-popular HBO series ‘Girls, I suspected the show could be seen as a product of the post 60’s, literary, post-post-modern beat/hippie/hipster culture that comes with a pedigree. There is a deeper current of Western individualism (Romanticism, Modernism, Postmodernism) running through Western culture. First, perhaps, Mary Shelley, then the Bloomsbury group, then Oberlin political radicalism and eventually…Girls.
Maybe. Maybe not. That’s probably a stretch.
Admittedly, this helps keep many chatterers chattering away who see their own selves and causes (feminism especially) reflected therein. I can’t say I care that much for the subject matter, though I will generally support artists who stay true to their art, as religion, polite society, politics and ideologues of all sorts should be transcended if that art is going to last.
Glenn Reynolds has a piece at USA Today.
According to the Atlantic: Why are 58% of first-births to unmarried women in lower middle class households? Of course, it might have a lot to do with taking marriage apart, and replacing it with…whatever’s here now. Naturally, being politically liberal the focus at the Atlantic on making more income equality.
My current predictions: The modern quest for the socially constructed, feelings first (S)elf, oppressed by (F)orces, is going to feed into identitarian and collectivist political movements. These movements will continue to place upward pressure on the married, stable and ambitious folks who find themselves as gatekeepers in many important institutions. As it already has, this will lead to a lot of talk about ‘society’ and the ‘latest moral cause’. Sometimes this discussion will appeal to parents and children (and maybe most families), but often it will have to appeal to the anti-family, anti-Nation, anti-oppressor base (usually radicals who won’t allow anyone to speak of the importance of family and personal responsibility).
For the poorest and those with the fewest options, fewer signals will point towards family, home, tradition and honor (duties to other people which freedom requires). Many more signals will point towards ‘community,’ State, do-whatever-you-want-until-you-can’t and a kind of rationalistic utopian political ideal (we make the rules and then you get your freedom within the collective).
Can this be right?
Thanks for reading.
Related On This Site: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…
Kay Hymowitz In The The City Journal: Love In The Time Of Darwinism…Kay Hymowitz In The City Journal: Child-Man In The Promised Land?…Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’