Friday, May 15, 2009

How common is it for a married man to stay with his kids?

As a follow-up to my post on family structure, this table is more specific since it indicates what percent of families are biological, step, cohabiting, or single-mother. It varies a bit by whether you interview a teen or a parent because of ambiguity of definitions (2009. Demography 46:85-101). The specific question I want to answer is, what percent of two-parent families have kids with their biological father.

We calculate that by dividing the percent in biological families by the percent in all two-parent families. Eighty-two percent of two-parent families have Dad with his biological kids. (And this is an underestimate since a small percent of stepfamilies are biological father-children families.) You can see it is more of a problem among Hispanics and especially blacks. Some commenters seem to think the biological family is quite rare, and men shouldn't get married and have kids because they will generally lose them.


  1. Bravo, Ron G!

    Bravo, marriage, the bruised, battered social institution that just won't die!

  2. Sorry, I think it is dying. Charles Murray promises to have a piece out soon. It should be instructive.

    One takeaway I got from his preliminary data is that most women demand a huge premium relative to themselves to get married, and demand a bigger premium the more desirable (younger, fewer sex partners, higher fertility) they are in relation to men.

    For example, Upper Class women according to Murray are almost always giving birth to legitimate children. Illegitimacy is unchanged over the decades, unlike White middle and working classes which show HUGE changes (increases) over time.

    Now, you can flip this around and say marriage and legitimacy is the function of the attractiveness of the MAN, since women do the choosing to either have kids legitimately or not.

    What this says is, that Upper Class men have little trouble attracting women to marry them. Because their wealth/power/status makes them attractive (duh!).

    Whereas men who are EQUAL to their female peers, the middle/working class men, don't have that attraction. Hence the high illegitimacy rates.

    You can put the Nuclear Family in this raw term: HOW ATTRACTIVE are men to women?

    Upper Class men: VERY.
    Middle Class men: middling, and significantly declining over the years.
    Working Class men: NOT AT ALL.

    If women have near absolute freedom (and they do in the West) what do they choose? Increasingly, either the richest and most powerful men, or to be single mothers. Those are clearly the trendlines.

  3. The problem is not that biological family is rare - in fact, it may still be in the majority. But it's still a significant risk.

    80% is Russian roulette with a 5 shot revolver.

  4. Middle Class men: middling, and significantly declining over the years.

    As I showed the other day, women are significantly more satisfied in relationships where the husband earns "about the same" as her.

    Internet dating info indicates macho middle-class occupations like policeman and firefighter are competitive with lawyer and doctor in eliciting female responses. Men that make a lot can even suffer a penalty.

    In the end people don't want their fantasy figure, they want someone similar to them.


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