ON-Lion Letter

"Very high rates of family fragmentation in the United States are subtracting from what very large numbers of young people are learning in school and holding them back in other ways," begins an August report from Center of the American Experiment (CAE) in Minneapolis by Mitch Pearlstein.  "This, in turn, is damaging our country economically by making us less hospitable to innovation while also making millions of Americans less competitive in an increasingly demanding worldwide marketplace.  All of which is leading, and can only lead, to deepening class divisions in a nation which has never viewed itself or operated in such splintered ways.  The same dynamic is destined play out in Minnesota unless attitudes, behaviors, and numbers change."

Pearlstein is CAE's founder and president.  The report, Strengthening Families and Rescuing Marriage:  Reducing Very High Fragmentation Rates and Strengthening All Families, is the fifth chapter in The 2014 Minnesota Policy Blueprint:  Prescription for Prosperity from CAE.  Its observations and recommendations are drawn from Pearlstein's research for and writing of his new book Broken Bonds:  What Family Fragmentation Means for America's Future, for which he interviewed 40 leading experts across the country on the subject.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supported Pearlstein's work on Broken Bonds.

"There is no magic bullet or simple set of ideas when it comes to restoring marriage in America or dramatically reducing out-of-wedlock births," Pearlstein writes in the report.  "This is the case as marriage and its improvements have more to do with elusive culture than manageable policy.  Still, the following significantly abbreviated list" of nine suggestions would help:

1.  Retrieve our voice about marriage

2.  More effectively serve healthy marriages

3.  More effectively help troubled and potentially troubled marriages

4.  Make marriage more likely in the first place

5.  More effectively reduce nonmarital births

6.  More effectively help girls and boys in fragmented families

7.  Help boys, more specifically, become marriageable men

8.  More effectively help men in the criminal-justice system

9.  Better allow our religious traditions and institutions to help

The report and book both provide more insight behind and details about these recommendations.

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