NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 26, 2005

Forty years ago, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted that the rise in single-parent families, rather than joblessness, would keep blacks in poverty. But the problem is not confined to minority families, according to researchers.

There are now a two-family nation, separate and unequal -- one thriving and intact, and the other struggling, broken and far too often African-American, says Hymowitz:

  • By 1980, the out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks had more than doubled to 56 percent; in New York City, it was as high as 66 percent.
  • Currently, 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers, who are more likely to be poor than married mothers.
  • In the inner city, child poverty is about 22.7 percent, while the number of welfare-dependent families rose from 2 million families in 1970 to 5 million in 1995.

However, according to Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, white families are not immune to these problems:

  • By 2002, 28.5 percent of white babies were born to single mothers, and the white illegitimacy rate has quadrupled since 1975.
  • Furthermore, in 2002, 29 percent of white children received some form of means-tested public assistance, a rate that is almost twice as high as the rate of black children in welfare programs at the time of the Moynihan report.
  • As of 2004, 1.6 percent of all Anglo men in their 20s and 30s were behind bars - roughly twice the rate as recently as 1980.

Sources: Kay S. Hymowitz, "Black America's Crisis," and Nicholas Eberstadt, "White Families are in Trouble, Too," Dallas Morning News, August 21, 2005; and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," U.S. Department of Labor, March 1965.


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