Commentary Magazine


Illegitimacy

To the Editor:

James Q. Wilson is wrong in claiming that slavery contributed to the rampant rise in illegitimacy in the black community [“Sex and the Marriage Market,” March]. In 1940, the first year for which such data exist, only 17 percent of the black children born in the United States were illegitimate. It was not until the mid-1960′s that the black illegitimacy rate exceeded 25 percent, and 1976 marked the first year in which a majority of the black children born were illegitimate. Clearly, slavery has had nothing to do with this trend.

Joel Margolis
Albany, New York

_____________

 

James Q. Wilson writes:

Joel Margolis should not content himself with a quick glance at the 1940 Census report but should do some real research. Steven Ruggles (American Sociological Review, 1994) reports that from 1880 through 1960, black children were two to three times as likely as white children to live with only one parent. Herbert Gutman’s 1975 book, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, has city data that show pretty much the same thing—for 1860! S. Philip Morgan and his colleagues (American Journal of Sociology, 1993) find the same for 1910, as does Frank Furstenberg (Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1975) for the city of Philadelphia in 1850. Orlando Patterson’s book, Rituals of Blood (1999), is a compelling account of how slavery affected blacks. Why does Mr. Margolis doubt what virtually every competent scholar has established?

_____________

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.