ON-Lion Letter
In a mid-July Slate magazine article, New York University professor Katie Roiphe responded to a recent New York Times piece on the decline of the American family by strongly defending single mothers, arguing that married-parent families "do not have a monopoly on joy or healthy environments or thriving children."

Later in July, Slate published a response to Roiphe by University of Virginia professor and National Marriage Project (NMP) director W. Bradford Wilcox.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports NMP.

"The decline of marriage among poor and working-class Americans is partly a consequence of changes in the American economy," according to Wilcox.

"But my research also suggests that changes in the culture -- the kind of changes that Roiphe largely applauds -- are implicated in the growing marriage divide between college-educated and less-educated Americans," he writes.  "Specifically, the growing secularization and liberalization of American society seem to be playing out differently by class. 

"Surprisingly, college-educated Americans are now more likely to attend church than their less-educated fellow citizens, and they have also become more marriage-minded since the 1970s -- in their attitudes toward divorce, for instance -- whereas less-educated Americans have become less marriage-minded over the same time," Wilcox continues.  "These cultural changes are only reinforcing the marriage divide in America, insofar as religious attendance and marriage-minded norms tend to strengthen marriage.

"The retreat from marriage in America, a retreat that Roiphe seems keen to defend, has led to 'diverging destinies' for children from less-educated and college-educated homes," he concludes.  "Children from poor and working-class homes are now doubly disadvantaged by their parents' economic meager resources and by the fact that their parents often break up.  By contrast, children from more-educated and affluent homes are doubly advantaged by their parents' substantial economic resources and by the fact that their parents usually get and stay married."
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