Curious Numbers


only 26 percent with divorced parents move up, compared with 42 percent born to unmarried mothers…and 50 percent who grow up with two married parents…Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then–assistant labor secretary, won fame — and vicious criticism — for his report lamenting that 24 percent of black births were to unmarried mothers. By 2009, that rate had risen to 72 percent — and the rate of unmarried births to all American mothers was 41 percent…Go back…to the years around 1900, and Americans were marrying later, and larger percentages than today never married at all.

We find the 42% number above to be curious. However, at a recent family gathering, we learned that, despite years of trying and locating volumes of documents, no one has been able to find any proof that grandma and grandpa were married. We figure it was a shotgun wedding without the wedding, with grandma moving from MA to RI just ahead of the stork. If they never actually married, it was a well kept secret.

In this way the 42% makes sense, if a substantial number of the children of unmarried mothers are growing up with 2 parents. We agree with Charles Murray that the numbers look awful, but it would be very interesting to know how many unmarried 2 parent households there are today.

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