This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Can We Lower the Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women?

The social science literature is pretty clear that children are more likely to succeed in life if they grow up in a stable two-parent family. Obviously, a child is better off with only one parent if the other is abusive, but in the main having two parents is better for you than having only one. Indeed, it is easy to argue that part of the growing inequality in the U.S. might be due to an increasing fraction of children growing up with diminished family resources--limited human capital. Charles Blow of Columbian University has a very cogent piece in today's NY Times discussing this issue, and his "solution" is remarkably straight-forward.
If there is an issue on which we can mostly agree it is that there are too many children born to single mothers. But there is a smart way to address this problem: increase comprehensive sex education, teach young people to better value their bodies and protect their futures, hold male behavior more fully accountable, make contraception readily available and easily affordable and make sure that all women have a full range of reproduction options, including access to abortion.
But on some of these we are just treading water and on others we’re backpedaling.
Indeed, we seem to very easily blame the victims, rather than looking realistically at what is going on and why. In general terms, that is how inequality increases. Those with more resources exploit those with fewer resources (even if unintentionally), and the entire community needs to step up and say we need to change how things are organized. These are the decisions that lie behind the numbers in Piketty's book, for example.

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