Liberals, Conservatives & the Family
In her new book, When the Bough Breaks, Sylvia Ann Hewlett recites the dreary litany of economic and social stress on the American family. Since 1973, real wages have fallen and the median family income has been barely maintained by a surge of mothers into the workforce. At the same time, the costs of housing, transportation, and college education have all risen much faster than inflation, while, to compound the injury, the tax burden on families has increased.
The consequences have not been far to seek. Today, parents spend 40 percent less time with their children than a generation ago, and one quarter of all children under the age of six are poor. The divorce and illegitimacy rates have risen so far that, by one estimate, a white child born in the early 80′s will have only a 30-percent chance to live to age seventeen with both biological parents at home, and a black child, a 6-percent chance. Nor is this all. The child suicide rate has tripled, scores for basic-skills tests used by large corporations to recruit new workers have fallen dramatically, juvenile crime continues to rise, the high-school dropout rate, once falling, has begun to climb again. Today no neighborhoods are exempt from the social and economic fallout of the past twenty years.
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