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Here’s some news you can rue: 40% of all US births are to single moms, a 700% increase since 1960, (although the rate does appear to have peaked in the last few years….we’ll see if it holds (it won’t if the US de-Whitening continues apace)).

The Social Capital Project, spearheaded by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), decided to investigate why single motherhood has become more common in the last two generations. Since 1960, America’s single motherhood rate has risen from 5 percent to 40 percent in absolute terms—a 700 percent increase in under 60 years.

Too short of a time period for this trend to be the result of genetic disposition alone. Genes may be involved (in that there could be genes which make a woman more or less monogamously inclined), but given the rapid increase in single mommery it’s reasonable to conclude that deep and broad social changes have exerted the greater influence, either by directly altering behavior through a suite of incentives and disincentives, or by providing reinforcing stimuli to genetic triggers that switch on or off depending on environmental inputs.

The report offers explanations for the rise in single mommery that reiterate most of what I’ve written on the topic: namely, female economic independence, State welfare as Daddy substitute, the Pill, and male economic stagnation are the big incentives fueling the increase, largely through the mechanism of reducing the number of fertile-age married women.

To review, the past 60 years have seen more unmarried women and more of them engaged in sexual activity, leading more of them to become pregnant, even as fewer married women today get pregnant or give birth. Shotgun marriage has declined, and over the past 40 years declining rates of unintended pregnancy among unmarried women and rising acceptability of unwed childbearing have led to fewer abortions. Rising unwed pregnancies, declining shotgun marriage, and falling abortion produced more unwed births. All of those trends increased the share of births to unmarried women.

How important were each of these changes in raising the share of births that occur to unmarried women? We can roughly simulate counterfactual scenarios in which some factors changed as they actually did while others are kept at their early 1960s levels. In Figure 14, the top line shows the estimated increase in the share of births that were to unwed mothers from the early 1960s to the late 2000s, an increase from 8 percent to 43 percent. Many people might be inclined to see this rise and attribute it to an increase in pregnancy among single women. But the next line down indicates that this factor is a minor one. It shows that the share of births to unwed mothers would still have risen to 36 percent if the nonmarital pregnancy rate had stayed as low as it was in the early 1960s while everything else changed—the share of women who were married, marital pregnancy rates, marital abortion rates, nonmarital abortion rates, and shotgun marriage rates.

Emphasis mine. The factors driving the massive increase in single mommery are primarily exogenous, ie independent of the single woman pregnancy rate.

In fact, the fall in the marital pregnancy rate appears to be a more important factor; if that rate had remained at its high early-1960s level while everything else changed (including the nonmarital pregnancy rate), the share of births to unwed mothers would have risen only to 32 percent.

Fewer marriages, more later-in-life enfeebled-egg marriages together decrease the marital pregnancy rate. (The marital abortion rate is very low.)

The decline in shotgun marriage has been a bigger factor than changes in either nonmarital or marital pregnancy rates taken individually (and about as important as changes in both taken together).

Shotgun marriage — basically, a woman’s family persuading the father to “man up” and marry the woman he knocked up before she gives unwed birth to the shame of her family — is a lot less common today because severed social bonds which used to make the threat of public shame palpable, and cultural changes in how single momhood is viewed (from less to more positively), have reduced the urgency to provide a conception with the imprimatur of marriage.

The biggest single factor in raising the share of births that were to unwed mothers seems to be the decline in marriage, which has expanded the pool of potential unwed mothers. Had the share of women ages 15-44 who were married stayed at its early-1960s level while everything else changed, just 24 percent of births would have been to single mothers in the late 2000s. The decline in marriage primarily reflects an increase in never-married women rather than divorced or widowed women (not shown).

This is basically the “I don’t need no man, I’m an empowered careerist shrike” phenomenon, which, as you will read, created a premarital sexual market feedback loop encouraging men to demand sex from women without offering marriage in exchange.

The report authors conclude that the cause of the rise in single mommery is NOT primarily a consequence of negative economic trends. Instead, they blame affluence for weakened family stability.

Affluence brought a proliferation of novel ways to enjoy leisure time and fed a growing pay-off to enrolling in higher education. Marrying early, having children early, staying in unfulfilling marriages, and having large families became more costly relative to the available alternative ways to achieve fulfillment, whether through pursuit of a humanities Ph.D. or sexual gratification.41 The result was an increase in the pool of single people and a decline in marital birth rates.

At the same time that women began to demand more educational and economic opportunities, rising affluence facilitated the expansion of the two-earner family. The introduction of more and more labor-saving home appliances and types of processed food reduced the amount of time necessary for housework. As family incomes rose, more and more couples could afford paid child care, meals outside the home, and other services that replaced the considerable work housewives had traditionally undertaken.

Rising affluence also was responsible for the development of reliable contraception. The pill, in particular, allowed women to control their own fertility and facilitated family planning around career considerations. This new ability greatly increased the appeal to women of professional pursuits.

Executive Mommery: Affluence and technology decoupled sex from marriage.

Affluence and technological development facilitated the decoupling of sex and marriage, which increased nonmarital sexual activity and elevated unwed pregnancy rates. Penicillin brought an end to the syphilis crisis that regulated sexual activity through much of the first half of the twentieth century. The pill provided a way to dramatically reduce the chance of an unintended pregnancy. And abortion became safer, fueling rising demand for legal abortion services that culminated in the Roe decision.

As nonmarital sex became safer and its consequences less severe, more single men and women became sexually active. This trend became self-reinforcing. Normative regulation of sexual activity among single men and women loosened. In 1969, 68 percent of American adults agreed that pre-marital sexual relations were wrong. Just four years later in 1973, that number had dropped to 47 percent, a decline of nearly one-third, and as of 2016, only 33 percent agreed that sex between an unmarried man and woman is wrong. What is more, pressure increased on ambivalent single women to engage in sex in order to win and maintain the affection of romantic partners and potential husbands.

When women no longer needed marriage (because women were economically and reproductively self-sufficient), men no longer needed to barter marriage for sex. Now where have you read that before? Oh yeah…..HERE.

As we have seen, despite advances in birth control (or, paradoxically, because of those advances), more sexual activity led to higher rates of unwed pregnancy. While wider use of more effective birth control might have been expected to reduce pregnancy rates, it may be that the greater availability of contraception itself increased sexual activity.

Steve Sailer has made this same point about abortion; paradoxically, the increasing availability of cheap, effective abortion incentivized increased sexual activity, because it’s human nature to do risky stuff if we believe operators are standing by to protect us from the consequences of our risk-taking.

Regardless of the reasons behind this increase, not all sexually active couples used effective methods of birth control or used them consistently. Many couples, in the pre-pill past, would have been poor contraceptors but were not sexually active. But as nonmarital sex became more common, their reproductive fates became more tied to their ability to prevent sexual intercourse from leading to pregnancy. In this regard, relatively disadvantaged women suffered disproportionate consequences from the more general changes in societal norms around nonmarital sex.

Noblesse malice. Or: culture norms matter.

The availability of the pill and legal abortion also affected shotgun marriage, which further contributed to the rise in unwed childbearing. Previously, single women could expect a promise of marriage from their boyfriends in the event of pregnancy. Men, after all, generally would have to make a promise of marriage in any other relationship. But over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, given the diminished risk of unintended pregnancy, more and more single women were open to sex without a marriage promise. That weakened the bargaining power of single women who preferred not to engage in sex without the promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy.

Sluts are a chaste woman’s worst enemy. The feminist movement against “slut shaming” is the revolt of less attractive women who can’t compete with prettier women able to convince men to hold out for marriage without the women giving away the bore store.

Further, the availability of effective contraception and abortion may have led many men (and their friends and family) to reason that since women have a degree of control over whether they get pregnant or choose to carry a pregnancy to term, a man who impregnates a single woman is not obliged to marry her.

Feedback loops, I see them. AKA it takes two to tango. AKA men and women don’t exist in a sex-differentiated vacuum.

Finally, affluence also made it more affordable to be a single mother relative to the era before World War II. Socioeconomically advantaged women could better afford to raise children on one income, sometimes with child support from their former partner. Disadvantaged women could draw on an expanded federal safety net that reflected the rising wealth of American taxpayers. That safety net afforded a fairly meager lifestyle on its own, but in combination with their own earnings and assistance from family, friends, and partners, women could increasingly make it work (especially if they had only known an impoverished living standard themselves growing up).

However, the particular way that American safety nets were designed often disincentivized women from marrying or staying married, since benefits were generally even less generous to two-parent families. That led to increases in unwed childbearing too.

There is a contingent of tradcon-ish righties who balk at the idea that the State and the social norming of working women create disincentives for women to marry; but here we are, data in hand showing exactly that.

The report authors conclude that male economic fortunes aren’t the main cause of the decreasing marriage rate (and subsequent rise in the single mommery rate). However, I note that the authors make the critical analysis error of ignoring the reality and impact of female hypergamy. This is a very common flaw in these studies, but it’s a critical flaw because women don’t judge the status of men in absolute terms; women judge the marriageability (the bux) and romantic worth (the fux) of men relative to other men AND relative TO WOMEN. Read on to see what I mean.

The idea that affluence is behind the rising share of births to unwed mothers may sound strange to those who hold a more negative view of the American economy. The prevailing wisdom is that unwed childbearing has been driven by the deteriorating position of male workers. Poor, working- and middle-class men, it is claimed, have seen lower pay over time, reflecting globalization, deindustrialization, and automation. The weak labor market has driven an increasing number of men out of the labor force entirely. Thus, some reason that the reduction in the share of potential male partners who women consider “marriageable,” combined with a persisting value placed on motherhood, explains why women have increasingly chosen to have children without getting married.

There are a number of problems with this position, however. For starters, most of the trends discussed above that have contributed to a rising unwed birth share began or began to accelerate in the 1960s. Nonmarital birth rates were rising in the 1940s and 1950s, and perhaps earlier. The increase in the unwed birth share itself started in the 1950s and accelerated beginning in the 1960s. In other words, these trends generally extend back at least to the “Golden Age” of twentieth-century America—when productivity and wage growth were much stronger than after the 1960s, and when household incomes were rising faster in the bottom half of the income distribution than above it.

Second, rather than seeing declines in pay, men have generally seen flat or modestly rising compensation since the 1960s. That certainly has been a disappointment compared with the strong wage growth of the 1950s and 1960s, but it remains the case that men are mostly doing at least as well as their 1960s counterparts, and so it is unclear why they should seem less marriageable than in the past.

I’ll clear it up for the authors: Hypergamy. As women have seen their career prospects and personal incomes rise, economically stagnating men have been hardest hit by women’s innate desire for higher status mates. A working class man is a catch for a jobless single woman, but he brings nothing to a working woman who already has her basic needs met. And as women rise occupationally and financially, their attraction for higher status men than themselves rises along with their own economic status. This leads to working women choosing men based on non-provider mate value cues, or choosing to drop out of the marriage hunt altogether.

Oh, and obesity. Can’t forget female obesity, which is a big (heh) driver of the low marriage rate. Men don’t want to marry fat chicks. There are more fat chicks since 1960. Ergo, there are fewer marriages.

(Fat men are less of an obstacle to marriage because women don’t put as much emphasis on men’s physiques as men put on women’s physiques.)

Third, to the extent that men’s labor market outcomes have worsened, this could reflect the increase in unwed childbearing rather than the former causing the latter. Research finds that married men have better labor market outcomes than single men, even accounting for the fact that they may be more marriageable.

Genetic confounds.

If partners, families, and society writ large have come to accept single parenthood, it is likely that their expectations of nonresident fathers have diminished as well, which could have reduced the effort those men put into optimizing their economic status.

I’ve mentioned this before: working women disincentivize male resource provision (there are those sexual market feedback loops again), and the corollary to that is economically vulnerable women incentivize male resource provision.

This may be particularly true in disadvantaged communities where single parenthood is common. Alternatively, the legal or moral obligation to pay child support may lead some absent fathers to avoid the formal labor market and rely on family, friends, informal work, and the underground economy.

When the State gets involved in the family formation racket, bad outcomes usually ensue.

Even the “marriageable man” hypothesis ultimately presumes a baseline level of affluence that, historically speaking, is a recent phenomenon. The argument that because men are less marriageable, women are delaying or foregoing marriage but still choosing to have children presumes that many women are able to afford single motherhood. If not for increased female earnings potential relative to the past or a more generous government safety net, it would matter little if men became less marriageable. Women would be unable to afford single motherhood, and rather than seeing rising unwed childbearing we would simply see reduced childbearing.

Ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of women has created the single mom crisis.

Social phenomena are complicated and have multiple causes, but our read of the evidence—and we are by no means alone—is that negative economic trends explain little of the overall rise in unwed childbearing. Instead, we think it is more likely that, as with other worsening aspects of our associational life, rising family instability primarily reflects societal affluence, which reduced marriage and marital childbearing, increased divorce and nonmarital sexual activity and pregnancy, and reduced shotgun marriage.

Mass scaled society is creating a gynarchy (defined by me as a society organized around the primacy of women and their needs, and characterized by social chaos). The Gynarchy is a synonym for Africa. That’s where we’re heading….the blight side of history.

This does not mean we should lament rising affluence. There is no reason we must choose between having healthier families and communities or having stronger economic growth. Indeed, it is possible to imagine a future in which rising affluence will allow more women and men alike to work less and less and spend more time with children, families, friends, neighbors, and fellow congregants.

On this subject, I’m a pessimist. Good times create…and all that. First, there’s the loss of purpose that accompanies the Automated Life. This hits men especially hard, because men, unlike women, don’t primarily get their sense of purpose from raising children and chatting up the neighbors hoping for gossipy dirt. Men get their purpose from work, from achievement, and (yes) from sexual conquest.

Second, there’s the matriarchal nature of “workless” societies in which men are rendered superfluous as resource providers for women and children. This is guaranteed to encourage cock carouseling, alpha fux beta bux, delayed marriage and spinsterhood, and low fertility rate. The end result of affluence will be more time with oneself, rather than with children, family, or friends.

But to date, we have tended to spend additional wealth to pursue individual and personal priorities. That has eroded our associational life—including the stability of our families, especially among disadvantaged families who have enjoyed the fruits of rising affluence less than others have. Continuing to make the same choices with our ever-higher purchasing power threatens to diminish the quality of life for rich and poor alike.

A reader asks, “if the single mom babies are White, maybe it’s not so bad”. I reply: In the short term, sure, not so bad. Single mom White babies >>>>> married mom nonWhite babies. But over the long haul, in a timeline that gene-culture co-evolution can have an impact on behavior by cementing into the code of life a new suite of traits, it’s bad.

And it’s an irrefutable fact that the bastard spawn of single moms do worse in life on just about every measurable outcome than do the kids of married moms. Whether the cause is genetic or social, doesn’t much matter. As long as you can set your watch to the predictability of a single mom sprogson huffing paint under an overpass or sprogdaughter mudsharking by age 14, it’s in the interest of society to keep a lid on the single mommery rate.

The risk of allowing our affluence to normalize a high rate of single mommery is evident: If in the fullness of time our 40% single mom rate metastasizes, there will be YUGE downstream consequences and emanating penumbras from what would amount to the wholesale destruction of the Eurasian family structure that has existed for millennia. Each generation laboring under a grossly high single mom rate will slowly inch the character of our women away from K-selected Euro monogamy and toward r-selected African polygyny/polyandry. What starts as a social selection pressure eventually ends as a genetic selection effect.

PS As usual for current sociological research, from what I can tell none of the data and analysis was controlled for race. Maybe I should expect this glaring oversight from a cucked Utahn like Mike Lee, but the days when everybody ignores the racial elephant in the room are over.

***

I just noticed the stock photo that the National Economics Editorial used as a banner for their single mom story is this:

You CAN find all-White couples and families in the media, as long as the story is about something dysfunctional, like single momhood or volcuckery. White privilege, everyone!

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