Thursday, May 14, 2009

End of the nuclear family?



As I wrote earlier, I'm addressing the claim that the nuclear family is outdated and something men should avoid one statistic at a time. The graph above, from Childstats.gov, shows that almost 70 percent of kids are currently in a household with two married parents. While it's true that a minority of those families are stepfamilies, a stepfamily is a nuclear family, and as a reader wrote earlier, they've always been around. That's about 3 times the number of kids in mother-only families.

My initial impression is that there is a lot of Internet exaggeration about these negative family trends. It sounds like a rationalization to me. It's convenient to say that I can't be admirable like my grandfather because that world is gone. It hasn't gone anywhere, and it is what you make it.

8 comments:

Jewish Atheist said...

My initial impression is that there is a lot of Internet exaggeration about these negative family trends. It sounds like a rationalization to me. It's convenient to say that I can't be admirable like my grandfather because that world is gone. It hasn't gone anywhere, and it is what you make it.I agree about the exaggeration, but I don't think it's an internet thing or a rationalization for playing the field. It's part of the culture wars, and it lets conservatives pretend that liberals and the Pill destroyed the universe in the 60s.

Jewish Atheist said...

gah stupid html

Rohan Swee said...

JA: It's part of the culture wars, and it lets conservatives pretend that liberals and the Pill destroyed the universe in the 60s.

JA, "liberals and the pill" (i.e. permissiveness) did destroy the universe for certain segments of society. If Ron's chart were to be broken down by race and class and extended back a decade or so, you'd see pretty clearly whose universe got pole-axed. That said I'm in agreement with yours and Ron's general point that the hand-cart is a long way from hell, and there's nothing to stop most people from emulating grandpa.

Jason said...

No, it's what she makes it.

Analyzing it from the perspective of the kids is the wrong angle if you're trying to convince modern men to marry. It's not whether or not the kids have two acting parents, it's whether or not a guy has a chance of being a father to his children.

If she divorces you and marries another guy, and they become his step-kids, that's great for them, they still have a father figure. But it's not so great for you.

Likewise, if you marry a woman who already has kids, you're a nuclear family... but you're also a cuckold.

Neither one of these is an attractive option for most men, but you're including them on the benefit side of the equation.

Ron Guhname said...

Jason: So, where are your stats? Do I have to do all the work? The graph doesn't show it, but the majority of these kids in two parent families are in bioligical families. Most men who marry a woman and have kids stay that way.

Blode0322 said...

My impression is that what Jason is talking about is rather exaggerated, but that's part of the point. I'm sure Cuckolded Man Syndrome is more common than Shaken Baby Syndrome, but a single instance of the latter, the perpetrator having been a foreign nanny, is said to have dramatically reduced the appeal of foreign nannies. People aren't super-rational about their kids and I wouldn't have them be (although I don't think British teenagers necessarily make bad nannies).

The point is, being cuckolded, having your kids taken in a divorce, etc. - a few instances of this and marriage loses its security. Marriage without security is like a health insurance program that pays out except when you're sick. A strained analogy, I'm sure, but I think both things are on people's minds today.

I do take your data on the nuke fam as good news though. I hope more people look at it, get married, have kids, grow turnips in the backyard, etc. Basically I hope everyone acts just like Audacious Epigone.

Whiskey said...

Ron --

I think you are missing the points.

1. Certain segments of the population in the West, including Blacks, Hispanics, and the White British working class, have descended into illegitimate hell. Blacks went from 24% in 1965 to 70% nationally, and over 90% in the Urban Core, where 60% of Blacks live. Meanwhile middle class suburban Blacks, around 40% of Blacks, have illegitimacy rates of 40%.

2. For Whites, the rate in 1965 was 4%, it is now for Middle Class Whites 20% (source Charles Murray) and and 40% for working class Whites.

3. As you can see, over time DRAMATIC changes can take place. Dalrymple writes of how in the 1950's, illegitimacy was unknown, and now it is almost unheard of for a father to be married and living with the mother of his children. The usual arrangement is a mother, with rotating boyfriends, who has three or four kids with all different fathers.

This change took place in about 40 years, or two generations.

4. Looking at other, non-Western nations, we can see at least "proxies" for this behavior, which is generally associated with fertility declines (the poorest have 3-4 kids, the middle/working class one). We can see in urbanized, Islamic nations like Tunisia, Algeria, and Iran, TFRs of 1.7 or less, comparable with that of the Whites in the US and with White Britons.

IF you ONLY look at a snapshot in time NOW of Upper Class Whites and Middle Class whites (the former have negligible amounts of illegitimacy) you will not see problems.

If you look at trends and view Blacks and Hispanics as "canaries in the coal mine" you'll see unstoppable trends.

Most women, PARTICULARLY White Middle/Working Class women, would prefer to focus on career and sex life, increasingly have one designer eugenic baby on their own, at mid thirties, or with some "beta" guy they'll soon divorce. [Add in separated and divorced numbers and "All Races Total" comes to 41% for no biological father in the home.]

Non-biological fathers, generally speaking, have less incentive to protect kids from sexual abuse, and invest resources in their reproductive success (education, etc.). Merely having a step-dad or rotating series of boyfriends in the home (as the Census Bureau has redefined "family") is not enough.

Yes, I think the nuclear family IS obsolete. It is not dead, horses and buggies carried on well into the 1930's in Eastern Cities in America. But clearly it is dying.

Women no longer need/want a man of relatively equal wealth/power/status in marriage. Indeed the figures on the remarkable lack of CHANGE OVER TIME for Upper Class White women according to Murray point to something very interesting:

*IT takes a huge premium over a woman's social/economic power by the man to induce marriage.

Think about it. If you are an attractive young woman, what's your best option:

A. Play the field during optimal youth/beauty/attractiveness, hope to win the "lottery" by landing a rich and handsome "mega-groom" and fall back on either single motherhood or a "you'll do ... for now" Beta male in her thirties?

or

B. Commit early and lose "the option" to land the mega-groom because of entanglement with some "loser" guy her own equal that makes her less attractive?

Clearly most women choose A over B, and do so enabled by the Pill and condom, anonymous urban living, and upward mobility that makes most men their equal or lessors.

Jason said...

I'll let Whiskey do the heavy lifting. This is not my crusade. But I will say that by your own numbers it's a serious risk with serious consequences. I've already got enough on my conscience. If you make the promotion of traditional marriage in an environment that is designed to punish it your crusade, you will too.