Academic Largely Ignores Benefits of Intact Families

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

That intact families are more economically solvent than fractured ones has long been observed outside of academe. Arguably, as with many other policy questions, on this one as well, academics tend to be the last to notice.

robert putnam

The Fall 2015 issue of The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy features an article by Glenn T. Stanton on “Family Formation and Poverty: A History of Academic Inquiry and Its Major Findings.” Stanton is the director of Global Family Formation at Focus on the Family.

His 20-page treatise takes us through half a century of seminal research on families and poverty. Nonetheless, of the 15 or so studies he reviews, six are from universities, while nine are from think tanks or the popular press.

Interestingly, think tanks from across the ideological spectrum have come to the conclusion that single parenthood and poverty are inextricably linked, from the American Enterprise Institute to the Urban Institute. Similarly, even left-of-center journalists have noticed and explored the linkage, notably Jonathan Rauch in the National Journal and Barbara Dafoe in The Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the academics who deserve honorable mention include:

  • University of Washington professor Diane Pearce, who coined the term “feminization of poverty;”
  • Robert Putnam of Harvard; and
  • Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin.