Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Single parent children lack upward mobility

Thanks to the reader who sent a link to this New Scientist article. Inequality is the big subject worldwide. Contributing to inequality is a lack of upward social mobility:

 The study, Where is the Land of Opportunity?: The geography of intergenerational mobility in the United States, authored by Harvard economist Raj Chetty and colleagues from Harvard and Berkeley, explores the community characteristics most likely to predict mobility for lower-income children. It specifically focuses on two outcomes: absolute mobility for lower-income children – how far up the income ladder they move as adults &ndash and relative mobility – how far apart children who grew up rich and poor in the same community end up on the economic ladder as adults. When it comes to these measures, the Harvard study asks which factors are the strongest predictors of upward mobility.

1. Family structure. Of all the factors most predictive of economic mobility in America, one factor clearly stands out in their study: family structure. By their reckoning, when it comes to mobility, "the strongest and most robust predictor is the fraction of children with single parents". They find that children raised in communities with high percentages of single mothers are significantly less likely to experience absolute and relative mobility. Moreover, "children of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility if they live in communities with fewer single parents". In other words it looks like a married village is more likely to raise the economic prospects of a poor child.
What makes this finding particularly significant is that this is the first major study showing that rates of single parenthood at the community level are linked to children's economic opportunities over the course of their lives. A lot of research – including new research from the Brookings Institution – has shown us that kids are more likely to climb the income ladder when they are raised by two, married parents. But this is the first study to show that lower-income kids from both single and married-parent families are more likely to succeed if they hail from a community with lots of two-parent families.

The growth in single parent families (NZ just trails the US statistically) has substantially contributed to income inequality and  child poverty. Now, according to this research, it's also responsible for a lack of upward mobility for children.

It isn't single parent families period though. Post-war single parent families would, I am sure, still exhibit ample upward mobility for their children. It's the advent of welfare-created sole parent families that has trapped offspring. Too often their mothers - and fathers - only role-model lifestyles that lead to inter-generational dependence.

Have you ever heard David Cunliffe mention inequality and single parent families in the same sentence? For that matter, I've never heard Key draw the link either though to be fair he isn't beating the inequality drum.


JC said...

"Have you ever heard David Cunliffe mention inequality and single parent families in the same sentence?"

He isn't that silly. Alluding to single parents in such a way brings into play the lobbies of battered women, feminism,race mongers, the Poverty Industry and others like that.

For every single parent there's a bevy of hangers on dependent for their livelihoods and sense of worth riding on her back.. its an inverted triangle with the solo at the bottom and 10 people riding on her back.

Economically that solo mum generates millions of dollars for her leeches and their families who collectively constitute a powerful and brutally efficient interest group. So David and John won't go there.. yet.. because the dwindling "silent majority" still outnumbers the leeches.


John Dickson said...

consistent but interesting take