G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Well, one thing oddly missing in Murray is any discussion of that traditional indicator of social breakdown, teenage pregnancy. You can see why — because it has actually been falling like a stone:
That’s somewhat clever of Krugman, but it misses Murray’s more important point. Murray didn’t address the problem of teenage pregnancy because it is only one subset of the much larger issue: single motherhood or – to put a finer point on it – children being raised without fathers. And across all races, that figure has increased dramatically during the same time period of Krugman’s figure above:
Murray explicitly touches on the issue:
But we do know already that the collapse of these moral pillars of the welfare state must eventually have profound effects on policy…I have been among those who argue (as I have in this book) that the growth in births to unmarried women has been a social catastrophe.
…I am predicting that over the next few decades advances in evolutionary psychology are going to be conjoined with advances in genetic understanding, leading to a scientific consensus that goes something like this: There are genetic reasons, rooted in the mechanisms of human evolution, why little boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence not socialized to the norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prisons and to hold jobs…These same reasons explain why society’s attempts to compensate for the lack of married biological fathers don’t work and will never work. (emphasis mine)
It seems to be the case that teenage pregnancy has waned for whatever reason. Perhaps social shaming has done its job, or perhaps economic reasons have limited the scourge. But the same mechanisms have not led to a decrease in the birth rate for single women of all ages. And it is precisely the fact that no stable father figure is around, rather than the actual age of the female giving birth, that is most salient to social policy.