The New York Times has a fascinating story today about links between marriage and children and the growing class divide in America. The story focuses on two families — one led by a married couple, Chris and Kevin Faulkner; the other by a struggling single mom, Jessica Schairer:
The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.
But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.
The story is accompanied by two charts illustrating the trend. The first shows how the rate of women having children outside of marriage has increased among all racial groups:
This chart shows that children who don’t live with both parents are less likely to move up to higher income groups as adults: