"1,293,567 Casualties:  A Social Trend Claims Young Victims,"

by Roger Clegg, Center for Equal Opportunity, http://www.ceousa.org/

from The National Review,

The National Center for Health Statistics has just released its report,
"Births: Final Data for 1998," which contained this unhappy finding:
"The number of births to unmarried women rose 3 percent to 1,293,567,
the highest number ever reported."  That means that one birth in three
is now out of wedlock.

The report also found that illegitimate-birth rates "vary considerably
by race and Hispanic origin."  The percentage of out-of-wedlock births
for non-Hispanic whites is 21.9 percent, but for non-Hispanic blacks
it's 69.3 percent.  For Hispanics it's 41.6 percent, and for American
Indians 59.3 percent.  For Asians and Pacific Islanders overall the
number is 15.6 percent, but this varies from 51.1 percent for Hawaiians
to 6.4 percent and 9.7 percent for Chinese and Japanese Americans,

All of this is consistent with other recent data.  Forty-five percent of
black women managers or professionals have had an illegitimate child,
compared to 3 percent of managerial or professional whites.  Half of all
births in New York City are illegitimate, and in some neighborhoods the
proportion reaches 80 percent.  A 1997 survey by the federal government
found that the percentage of black high-school students who said they
have had sex was 73 percent, versus 44 percent for whites and 52 percent
for Hispanics.

But it hasn't always been this way.  In 1940, the black illegitimacy
rate was 19 percent, less than what it is for whites now.

Does it matter?  Of course it matters.  It is only common sense that 1.3
million illegitimate children is a significant national problem.

Anyone who has raised a child knows how enormously time-consuming the
job is for two parents, let alone one.  Anyone who has raised a boy, in
particular, knows that the father's role, as model and disciplinarian,
is irreplaceable.  Anyone who is not Murphy Brown knows that the
resources -- in terms of time and money -- available to a two-parent
home make the job easier there than where there is only one parent.  To
paraphrase George Orwell, some things are so obvious that only a
sociologist can miss them.

In a lecture at the American Enterprise Institute a couple of years ago,
Professor James Q. Wilson said that the empirical data regarding the
importance of family structure is "so strong that even some sociologists
believe it."  For instance:  Children in one-parent families are twice
as likely to drop out of school as those in two-parent homes.  Boys in
one-parent families are much more likely to be both out of school and
out of work.  Girls in one-parent families are twice as likely to have
an out-of-wedlock birth.

Professor Wilson cites a Department of Health and Human Services
study of 30,000 American households, which found that for whites, blacks,
and Hispanics at every income level except for the very highest, children
raised in single-parent homes were more likely to be suspended from
school, to have emotional problems, and to behave badly.  He added that
another study showed that white children of an unmarried woman were much
more likely than those in a two-parent family to become delinquents, even
after controlling for income.  

When Cynthia Harper of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S.
McLanahan of Princeton University tracked a sample of 6000 males aged 14
to 22 from 1979 to 1993, they found that boys whose fathers were absent
from the household had double the odds of being incarcerated.  This was
true even when other factors, such as race, income, parents' education,
and urban residence, were held constant.  Indeed, family structure was
more important than income.  Each year spent without a father in the
home increases the odds of future incarceration by 5 percent, so that a
child born to an unwed mother was 2.5 times more likely to end up
imprisoned, versus 1.5 times for a boy whose parents split up when he
was a teenager.

Professor William Galston has pointed out that you need to do only three
things to avoid poverty in this country: finish high school, marry
before having a child, and produce the child after the age of 20.  And
of the three the second would seem to be the key, since if you violate
it you are also more likely to violate the first and third.  Only 8
percent of the children from families who do these three things are
poor, versus 79 percent from those who fail to.

The staggering illegitimacy rates are so central a cause of social
pathologies, especially for African Americans, that one would expect the
problem to be widely known and discussed -- but it isn't.  Among
academics and the media, it has long been oh-so-politically-incorrect to
suggest that there might be something wrong with having children without
getting married.  But now the problem goes deeper than that.  Over half
the public, and 70 percent of those under age 35, think that no shame
should attach to having an out-of-wedlock child, according to Professor

It is also politically incorrect to point out the disparity in
illegitimacy rates between whites and Asians versus blacks, Hispanics,
and Native Americans.  What is especially galling to the left is that
the gap can hardly be attributed to discrimination.  It is not the Ku
Klux Klan that is impregnating all these women.  Indeed, the rates
really started to skyrocket in the 1960s -- that is, the same decade
that the Jim Crow era ended and national anti-discrimination legislation
was passed.  And it is not all minority groups that have the higher

A child's environment IS his or her parents.  It makes an enormous
difference to a child's economic well-being and his moral and
intellectual development if the mother must do the work alone.  When the
illegitimacy rate of blacks is more than triple that of whites, there
will continue to be huge gaps in the aggregate achievements and
pathologies of the two groups.  That is a fact, and anyone who fails to
acknowledge the problem of illegitimacy while decrying social inequality
is being intellectually dishonest.

* * *

"Fatherlessness:  The Root Cause -- The Link Between Crime and
Fatherlessness Is Astonishing,"

by Dave Kopel, Independence Institute, http://i2i.org/

from The National Review,

Roger Clegg's article detailing the continuing rise in illegitimacy
rates is terrible news not just for the children themselves, but for
every potential crime victim in America.  For all the talk about the
complexities of the "root causes" of crime, there is one root cause
which overwhelms all the rest: fatherlessness.

As Pat Moynihan wrote in 1965:  "From the wild Irish slums of the
nineteenth-century Eastern seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los
Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history:  A
community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken
families, dominated by women, never acquiring a stable relationship to
male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the
future -- that community asks for and gets chaos. . . .  [In such a
society] crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out the whole
social structure -- these are not only to be expected, they are
virtually inevitable."

A Detroit study found that about 70 percent of juvenile homicide
perpetrators did not live with both parents.  Another study found that
of girls committed to the California Youth Authority (for serious
delinquents), 93 percent came from non-intact homes.  Nationally,
seventy percent of youths incarcerated in state reform institutions come
from single-parent or no-parent homes.  A survey of juvenile delinquents
in state custody in Wisconsin found that fewer than 1/6 came from intact
families; over two-fifths were illegitimate.

Said one counselor at a juvenile detention facility in California:  "You
find a gang member who comes from a complete nuclear family, a kid who
has never been exposed [to] any kind of abuse, I'd like to meet him .
. . a real gangbanger who comes from a happy, balanced home, who's got a
good opinion himself.  I don't think that kid exists."  

Young black males from single-parent families are twice as likely to
engage in crime as young black males from two-parent families.  If the
single-parent family is in a neighborhood with a large number of other
single-parent families, the odds of the young man becoming involved in
crime are tripled.  These findings are based on a study conducted for
the Department of Health and Human Services by M.  Anne Hill and June
O'Neill of Baruch College.  The study held constant all socioeconomic
variables (such as income, parental education, or urban setting) other
than single parenthood.

Crime has often been thought to be a problem of race or poverty, since
poor people and racial minorities comprise a larger portion of the
violent criminal population than of the population as a whole.  But in
fact, the causal link between fatherlessness and crime "is so strong
that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship
between race and crime and between low income and crime," as Barbara
Dafoe Whitehead noted in her famous "Dan Quayle was Right" article.

William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute, observes that most
variables that are said to determine the crime rate have not changed
since 1960.  Male unemployment, the poverty rate, and the percentage of
church members has stayed approximately the same.  Urbanization has
increased slightly but hardly enough to explain crime search.  Since
1960, real personal income per capita doubled, and so has the number of
police per capita.  "The one condition that has changed substantially,"
Niskanen writes, "is the percentage of births [to] single mothers,
increasing to 5 percent in 1960 [and] to 28 percent in 1991."  (And, as
Clegg explains, to an even higher rate in 1999.)

There is another association between illegitimacy and crime:  unwed
fathers are more likely to commit crimes than are married fathers.  If
you see two young men walking towards you on a lonely, dark street, you
may start to worry.  But if one of the men is holding the hand of a
small child, your worries vanish.  Marriage and mating really do
civilize men, but mere sex and reproduction do not.

Although misguided welfare policies helped spur the rise in
illegitimacy, the continued growth in illegitimacy, notwithstanding
welfare reform in 1996, suggests a widespread breakdown in social mores,
extending far beyond the ranks of welfare recipients.  How to fix that
problem is the most important question for persons who care about crime
control in the long run.  Compared to the disaster of illegitimacy,
almost everything else on today's "anti-crime" agenda is a trivial

Speaking at the 1999 NRA Convention in Denver, the late Vikki Buckley
(Colorado's Secretary of State) brought the crowd to its feet when she
explained:  "Those who would run the NRA out of town need to look at our
own children who are engaging in irresponsible sex and having children
they cannot take care of.  Such irresponsible sex is a new age hate
crime -- raise as much heck about that as you do the NRA and you will
save more lives in 5 years than are taken with guns in a century."

[Citations for the material in this article can be found in Kopel's book
Guns: Who Should Have Them?  (Prometheus Books, 1995).]

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