The percentage of babies being born to married parents has increased for every racial group during the period of 2016-2020 compared to five years prior, according to a Daily Wire analysis of newly released Census data.
The figure reverses a long downward trend and is a welcome bit of positive news this Father’s Day that could have major consequences for reducing poverty, crime, and racial inequality for a generation of children.
The improvement was particularly pronounced among blacks, whose legitimacy rates remain far below other groups but who saw the largest increase, from 33% to 38% over the five-year period.
Single-parent homes are the best predictor of many negative outcomes, so increasing the number of children with married parents has the potential to raise incomes, reduce crime, and increase academic accomplishment, said Christopher Brown, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.
“One of the best ways to attain racial equality is to have similar rates of married households,” he told The Daily Wire. “There is a mountain of data that shows how important two-parent households are, particularly married households, to family and economic and social well-being, across racial, cultural, and socioeconomic groups.”
He said it’s hard to modify most outcomes directly, but when people grow up with two married parents, the rest of the problems tend to take care of themselves. Married households are an example of “what can we do to put environmental factors in place that make healthier behavior easier,” he said.
The Census Bureau has postponed the release of the full once-a-decade Census, citing coronavirus. But in March, it released data from a detailed survey, known as the American Community Survey, given to a smaller set of Americans each year. The results are grouped into five-year segments for a larger sample size. The Daily Wire compared the five-year period ending with the year 2020 to the five-year periods ending in 2015 and 2010.
The below chart shows how much of racial inequality is attributable to the simple fact that households with one adult have half the earning potential of households with two adults: The percentage of households within a given demographic that are impoverished tracks almost exactly with the percent who are married.
The data also shows that marriage can be a nearly surefire ticket out of poverty for people of any race. Unmarried blacks had a 37% chance of poverty, a dismal statistic. But a black family headed by a married couple had only a 9% chance of being in poverty — making them vastly better off than unmarried households of whites or any other race.
Wealthy Asians topped the marriage charts at 87%. But even when a child’s parents are married but poor, that child is more likely to grow up to be wealthy. Poor Asians’ marriage rate of 62% is higher than the rate for Hispanics regardless of income, and higher even than wealthy blacks. More than a quarter of Asian American children who grow up in a household with an income in the bottom fifth rise to the top fifth by adulthood.
Ian Rowe, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who studies upward mobility and family structure, said much of how we perceive reality comes down to how we measure it. Most charts break things down by “blunt categories like race,” but not family status, leading people to perceive that minorities are oppressed.
Simply looking at the same data through the lens of family status would show a different picture: One where minorities who are married are doing quite well, and people of all races who are unmarried are not. This would give a more nuanced picture, but ideologues reject it because they want the “singular issue” to be “systemic racism,” he said.
“[Critical Race Theory proponent] Ibram Kendi says when he sees racial gaps in achievement, he sees racism, full stop. For those who want to perpetuate that narrative, they need to undermine [other] causalities,” said Rowe.
Federal education law requires that test score and graduation data be reported by race, but not family status. Since educators are presented with charts labeled by race, that is what they focus on.
“So you see initiatives like DEI to drive the ‘implicit bias’ out of teachers,” Rowe said. “If we were to do reporting based on family structure, you’d see instantaneously that there’s a far greater correlation to positive outcomes with two-parent households in virtually every category…If we wanted to actually seek solutions, we’d look at family status as a new prism of measurement.”
“You typically just hear that X percent of black kids are reading at proficiency. But if you saw [a chart showing the] distribution, you’d see there’s a not insignificant number of black kids at the top end performing well. So you’d start to see that maybe race is not the biggest factor here. Then you overlay family structure,” he added.
“This is the next frontier: Changing the way data is reported, to include family structure, can transform the way we see the problem and the interventions we use. One intervention would be teaching about the success sequence,” which holds that people who do certain simple behaviors including not having kids out of wedlock are almost guaranteed to avoid poverty, said Rowe, who previously ran charter schools in the Bronx.
Brown said it’s hard to know what accounts for the improvement in the proportion of births to married women, but that one possibility is simply that the rate had gotten so bad in recent decades that it couldn’t get much worse.