Saturday, July 29, 2017
From Professors June Carbone & Naomi Cahn, writing for the Institute for Family Studies:
What role does the family play in an age of increasing inequality? Two long-term changes determine the result. The first is a shift in family formation strategies. As we wrote in Red Families v. Blue Families in 2010, a new “blue family” value system emerged to prepare young adults for the changes associated with the information economy. Men and women in this system delay family formation until after they reach emotional maturity and financial independence. Adult commitments rest on flexibility and trust, and childbearing is seen as a critical responsibility best undertaken through planning and preparation. We compared this system with a more traditional or “red family” value approach that placed greater emphasis on shepherding sexuality into marriage and socializing young people into adulthood through the acceptance of gendered marital roles.
The second change has been the emergence of family form as a marker of class. The groups with the most stable marriage rates—and the most stable families—are those with more education or more income. Two-thirds of Millennials without a high school education, for example, had a nonmarital child compared to nine percent of those with a college degree or additional education. These family differences correspond to differences in income and wealth and appear to compound them.
A new report from IFS and AEI, The Millennial Success Sequence, beautifully reveals how the life patterns of Millennials illustrate these long-term changes: Millennials who are most likely to achieve economic security "get at least a high school degree, work, and then marry before having any children, in that order." The report found that those with less than a high school education were about five times less likely than those with a bachelor’s or higher degree to be in the middle or top third of the income distribution. Completing education, securing a job, and committing to the right partner in a stable marriage relationship constitutes “a sequence” important to achieving middle-class financial status and providing a stable foundation for family life.
Read more here.