Must-Read: If an intelligence vast, warm, and sympathetic from a planet orbiting a distant star were to scrutinize the United States today, it would be puzzled. Raising the next generation is one of two or three most important tasks any civilization that is going to survive must perform. Arranging society so that the proper resources are devoted to one task is thus one of the principal problems that any non-dysfunctional societal socio-economic system must address. Yet there has been a sharp drop over the past generation in the share of society’s resources that flow to mothers of young children either through within-household or within-kin group transfers from those who have not given birth or through entitlements–e.g., AFDC–provided by society as a whole, with SCHIP and the expansion of EITC being the only factors cushioning the impact of other social and economic changes.
An intelligence vast, warm, and sympathetic from a planet orbiting a distant star would probably conclude that we have, collectively, gone mad in our decision that the raising of young children is a less important part of the collective work of society than was previously held to be the case:
Working Mothers with Infants and Toddlers and the Importance of Family Economic Security: “WOver the past four decades in United States, the composition of families with children has changed markedly…:
…Most importantly, there is an increase in diversity of family types. There is no longer a dominant ‘typical’ family, especially not one with a breadwinning father, a care-taking mother, and their dependent children…. Marriage (if it happens at all) happens later in life, and the median age of first marriage is now 29 for men and 27 for women…. The typical woman has her first child now at age 26. Further, children are increasingly being born into families with unmarried parents; in 2014, 40.3 percent of all births in 2014 were to an unmarried mother…. It used to be that most children were raised in married-couple families, be they at the top or the bottom of the income ladder. Now, however, while families at the top continue to raise children inside marriage—typically with both parents holding down a fairly high-paying job—children in families at the bottom of the income distribution—and now many in the middle—are living with a single, working parent, most often a mother…