Wednesday, February 05, 2020


There are very clear numbers associating fatherlessness with increased crime and other pathologies, such as dropping out of school or early sexual experience.

Yet crime and dropping out have decreased in the society at large, even as fatherlessness in society has risen dramatically. Having a father who leaves or was never there seems to clearly be a bad indicator for an individual child. (Note: this is an association and could be genetic or environmental.) Yet the overall trend, even in fairly dramatic form, has not been able to override long-term improvement on those measures.  I wonder what is happening? I should look at the timetables for all of these and see if anything jumps out at me.  But first, I wondered whether any of you had already seen something on the matter.


james said...

No, but the first thing I'd look for is geographic and demographic trends. And try to see if there's a difference in complete fatherlessness and father-half-timeness.

Christopher B said...

james idea is good. Fatherlessness has been moving up the socioeconomic scale so that might attenuate the effects. There's probably also a difference between total abandonment of the family and the joint custody arrangements typical of UMC divorce, even if kids in both situations could be labeled fatherless.

BruceZeuli said...

I wonder about the effect of families who are fatherless in name only. I have worked in industries where many folks can be classified as the working poor. Though they are in a long-term stable family relationship, to the government the mom is single with no spouse. The benefits that accrue to mom and children as a result of this charade are simply too great to ignore.

Folks working long hours for low pay consider marriage a luxury that they one day hope to afford once their children have grown.

The ethical implications are complex to be discussed at another time.

But I believe that an intact family is so beneficial to the children and to society in general that this may be the lesser of evils.

If the man leaves, the family gets the aid and the family fares poorly. If the man stays, the family loses that aid and likely their housing and many other benefits. If the couple lies about the man presence, they get the aid and their lives and the lives of their children are benefited greatly.

Having been in business for so long I have seen the children of these couples graduate college and move on to well-paid jobs. Jobs that pay enough that they receive no aid, pay income tax, and enjoy the luxury of getting married.

As their work supervisor what advice do you offer?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ BruceZeuli - excellent comment. Yes, measurement is going to be close to impossible.

As to what advice we offer, that is a whole different topic, but it does highlight that many people are making rational rather than thoroughly irresponsible and selfish choices.