Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto responds to Paul Krugman's claim that "the sharp decline in marriage rates among less-affluent white Americans, documented by Charles Murray in his new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 is 'mainly about money' as opposed to 'morals.'"
Krugman concludes by complaining that conservatives are engaged in an "attempt to divert the national conversation away from soaring inequality." But the decline in low-skilled men's wages and marital prospects isn't the result of big Wall Street bonuses or lavish pay for Ivy League professors. It is a problem not of inequality but of equality--equality between the sexes.
... In 1960, according to the Pew Research Center, 72% of adults without a college education were married. In 2010, that proportion had declined to 47%. Many things changed over that half-century, but one of them is that marriage became a very different economic proposition for women.
Fifty years ago, a two-income household was unusual. In most cases when a woman married, she could expect to be supported financially by her husband. The 21st-century wife is expected to pull her own weight financially even if her husband's earning power hasn't diminished. This is called liberation.
... it is a fiction of economics to suggest that increased female labor-force participation was a new source of production. It was, instead, a reallocation of productive resources from homes to offices. No doubt on balance that has been a tonic for the commercial economy. But it has imposed significant social costs.