How, then, does one explain the fact that more and more of the nation's children are being born out of wedlock?
Because the nonmarital birth ratio is a function of (1) the out-of-wedlock birthrate (births per 1,000 unmarried women), (2) the marriage rate, and (3) the birthrate among married women (births per 1,000 married women) - the share of all children born out of wedlock has risen over the last thirty years, in large measure, because women were increasingly delaying marriage, creating an ever larger pool of unmarried women of childbearing age, and because married women were having fewer children.
They questioned why the focus was on low-income families when the normative changes underlying the growth in single-parent households permeated throughout society, as witnessed by the prevalence of divorce across all economic classes.
Fragile Families” Are Pro-Marriage More recent evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study tipped the balance for many in favor of the pro-marriage arguments.
While single parenthood is not the main nor the sole cause of children's increased likelihood of engaging in one of these detrimental behaviors, it is one contributing factor.
Put another way, equalizing income and opportunity do improve the life outcomes of children growing up in single-parent households, but children raised in two-parent families still have an advantage.
The focus on marriage was met with skepticism by others.
Critics argued that marriage was not an appropriate province for government intervention and that income and opportunity structures were much more important factors than family structure.
Moreover, marriage can help children only if the marriage is a healthy one.
While the definition of a “healthy marriage” is itself subject to debate, it is typically characterized as high in positive interaction, satisfaction, and stability and low in conflict.