Arnold Kling  

Hispanic Unwed Mothers

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Heather MacDonald writes


Every 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women bore 92 children in 2003 (the latest year for which data exist), compared with 28 children for every 1,000 unmarried white women, 22 for every 1,000 unmarried Asian women, and 66 for every 1,000 unmarried black women. Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage...

A couple of years ago, I saw some data that seemed to indicate that the economic progress of Hispanic immigrants was proceeding reasonably well. But I doubt that these children of unwed mothers are going to prosper.

MacDonald asks what a conservative open-borders advocate would do to solve this. Personally, I would focus on the unwed motherhood issue, not the ethnicity issue. As I wrote here,


In terms of economic policy, government faces a trade-off: providing assistance to non-traditional families can help those families raise their living standards; however, such assistance serves to encourage more non-traditional families. The net effect might be to increase poverty, a concern led to the 1996 welfare reform.

I really think that an explosive political question is whether single mothers are victims or villains. Those who see them as victims want to expand government services. Those who see them as villains wish that government policies would be a reflection of this latter view.


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CATEGORIES: Income Distribution



COMMENTS (8 to date)
Randy writes:

Single mothers are neither victims nor villians, they are simply people who made a choice. The assumption that creates the "problem" is that "society" should assume responsibility for those who make choices which result in difficult outcomes. And even then, it is only a "problem" for those who do not willingly choose to assume a social responsibility on their own. The solution, therefore, is to stop applying force. Don't force people to make "correct" decisions on parenthood. Don't force people to assume responsibility for others. Just let people make their own choices and assume their own responsibilities. "Problem" solved.

liberty writes:

It doesn't matter whether they are victims, villains or people who made a choice (morally-neutrally).

The facts are the same. Subsidize something and you get more of it.

N. writes:

Yes, and if you tax something you'll get less of it...

Buzzcut writes:

There are a lot of parellels between Mexican migrants in the current centruty and black migrants in the last. The black underclass was created when black men moved north to cities to find work. This put large strains on families, and is what caused the black family to breakdown.

Now, it is Mexican makes moving north to find work, leaving their old families behind and starting new families here.

Or at least that's how it seems to me. It's not like this is a widely reported story or well researched topic.

Azer writes:

Actually it was the welfare system that led to the breakdown in families. It subsidized "bad behavior".

quadrupole writes:

People who insist on raising children who they cannot raise properly are villains, plain and simple.

Children raised by incompetent parents are victims (of their parents).

To the extent that unwed mothers are unable to raise their children properly, they are villains.

The problem is, due to our societies strong reluctance to remove children from incapable parents we frequently wind up with a situation where in order to try to assist the victim (the child) we also end up subsidizing the villain (the incapable parent).

Please note, I am not calling for doing away with reluctance to remove children from parents here, but it's side effect is allowing a large number of victims (children) to effectively be held hostage by their victimizers (their parents), with society paying the ransom payments.

Omer K writes:

Short Answer : Villians

Medium-sized Answer: Villians, but the system encourages villians.

Long Answer: Entire books have been and will continue to be written on the Long Answer.

Steve Sailer writes:

The Hispanic illegitimacy rate, now 48%, up 1.6 points in just the last year, is exploding in an era of tighter welfare following the 1996 act, an era in which the black illegitimacy rate has been flat at around 68-70%.

The truth is that we have very little idea how to substantially cut Hispanic illegitimacy. It would be much easier to substantially cut illegal immigration.

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