Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Melissa Kearney begins her new book, The Two-Parent Privilege with a scene from an academic conference she attended a few years ago.
After days speaking with colleagues about declining U.S. employment and social mobility, the University of Maryland professor asked whether scholars should give more thought to the condition of families. Given their centrality to children’s life prospects, she reasoned, the policy community seemed oddly disengaged from discussions about parenting and household structure. In particular, the gradual increase in one-parent homes didn’t receive expert scrutiny in proportion with its importance to schooling and workforce preparation.
As Kearney expected, her inquiry was met with an uncomfortable quiet. In her experience, while social scientists were willing to acknowledge America’s undeniable trend toward single parenting, especially among the poor and working class, they were reluctant to weigh its consequences — and somewhat skeptical that anything could be done about it. Compared with subjects like taxation, welfare and finance, she writes, families are a seldom-discussed “elephant in the room.”
In a conversation with The 74’s Kevin Mahnken, Kearney discussed why she wrote The Two-Parent Privilege and whether anything can be done to address the problems it identifies.
Read more here.