There is a particularly pernicious and stupid proverb that I hear repeated mindlessly and it drives me crazy: “It takes a village to raise a child.” What does that mean? It asserts that the key success factor for raising healthy and happy children is a community, the macro-environment. One problem with that theory, however. It’s a lie. Everything we know from social science screams that the single most important factor is an intact family, a unit where there is husband and wife living with their biological children under the same roof.
I encountered the following statistic that divides the American population into four different ethnic cohorts: Asian, White, Hispanic, and Black. It then compares the share of births to wed mothers and median household income. The findings are stunning:
|Ethnicity||Share of birth to wed mothers||Median household income|
Anyone can see the pattern. But when we apply statistical techniques, the correlation is almost unbelievable .99. There’s a rule-of-thumb that any correlation above .70 is strong and a value of 1.0 is as strong as it can possibly get.
It is true that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. And income isn’t everything. However, nor is income nothing. Common sense tells us that median household income is inversely correlated with criminality. There have been several high profile fatalities involving the American police lately (Duante Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo) and in each case the victim was a visible minority and the product of a broken home.
I am the first to admit that reversing the trend of family dissolution is easier said than done. But before anything can be done, it has to be recognized and said aloud. We saw this in the civil rights movement. First, people had to say that “separate but equal” really meant “separate and unequal”. Then you can try to fix it. Similarly, it’s time for everyone to say – and this should be taught in our public schools – that the single best way to escape next-generation poverty and avoid criminality is to (if you’re a man) live in the same house with the woman who bears your children, or (if you’re a woman) make sure that before you bring a child into this world, that the man is committed to you and the baby you will raise together.
Because it takes an intact, nuclear family to raise a child.