The Family Way: Treating Fathers as Optional has Brought Big Social Costs

“The evidence that mother-only families contribute to crime is powerful. When two scholars studied data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, they found that, after holding income constant, young people in father-absent families were twice as likely to be in jail as were those in two-parent families. And their lives did not improve if their mother had acquired a stepfather. Fill-in dads don’t improve matters any more than do fatter government checks.” James Q. Wilson

The Family Way: Treating Fathers as Optional has Brought Big Social CostsOpinion Journal)

Some bold statements that you don’t hear people making every day; one hopes that this article won’t simply be dismissed as being “reactionary”, and that the important pro-fatherhood message won’t be drowned out by voices accusing the author of wanting to bring the woman-oppressing 50s back. Of course there are families that are better off without a father, but most single mothers aren’t Rosie O’Donnell or Jodie Foster. This article calls for active, involved fathers, not lord-of-the-manor breadwinners who demand the food on the table when they come home from the local bar so that they can spend the evening reading the paper and watching sports.

Google didn’t find anything on the “National Longitudinal Study of Youth,” but it did return a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. It’s annoying that I can’t check Wilson’s sources — it wouldn’t have taken up much space to give the names of the two scholars he mentions.

The article also paraphrases advice from William Galston, a former assistant to Clinton: “To avoid poverty, do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after you are 20 years old. Only 8% of people who do all three will be poor; of those who fail to do them, 79% will be poor.” Wilson’s use of the statistics seems to confuse causality with correlation, which is something I’m sure Wilson wouldn’t permit his philosophical opponents to do. Still, it sure looks like a strong correlation.