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Fatherless America, by David Blankenhorn

- Abstract

With about half of all marriages in the U.S. nowadays proving temporary, with more than a million babies born each year to women who never wed in the first place, and with estimates that half of today’s American children will spend at least a portion of their childhood in a single-parent family, it is hardly surprising that family issues have soared up the charts of problems that worry us. Which also qualifies them, of course, to be the butt of jokes, as in a recent cartoon depicting two youngish adults, one saying to the other, “It’s only marriage I’m proposing after all, not a lifetime commitment.”

Indeed, the past several years have seen an uncommonly swift change in how the issue of family meltdown is discussed. From derision at former Vice President Dan Quayle for his “Murphy Brown” speech and resentment over the prominence of “family values” at the 1992 Republican convention, the country may be moving toward something like a consensual judgment that, as the Atlantic titled its now-famous article by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “Dan Quayle Was Right.”



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