Mona Charen

Many, many young adults who already have babies and toddlers will explain that they "aren't ready" for the commitment of marriage, or that they haven't found the right person. How have we managed to get so confused?

The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower-middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They basically wait until they're married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. By contrast, 67.4 percent of illegitimate births were to women with less than a high school diploma in 2006, and 51.4 percent were to women with only a high school degree.

The failure to marry on the part of the lower and lower-middle classes, not the tax code, Wall Street or competition from China, is what is aggravating inequality in America.

The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure -- school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more -- children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality and diminishing happiness on a grand scale.

So yes, "Grandmother-to-be" should be worried -- not about what to tell her friends -- but about what will become of her grandchild if his/her parents choose to join the ranks of the great unwed.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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