Science Proves Family Structure Matters


Throughout history it's been obvious to any observer that children in intact families with a married mother and father do much better than children from broken homes or those living in alternative family structures. In recent years, there's been an attempt to deny that reality and convince people that children raised by gay or lesbian parents are somehow exempted from the realities of family life, claiming there are "no differences" in outcomes for these kids or even sometimes suggesting they do better than children raised by a married mother and father in the home. Increasingly, social scientists have been examining this "no differences" claim and, as you might suspect, find it without merit. A distinguished social scientist from the University of Virginia, W. Bradford Wilcox, writes a detailed piece this week for National Review reviewing three recent developments that make it harder for the "family structure denialists" to continue to make the "no differences" claim. He says:

"It’s been a rough two weeks for the family-structure denialists, those progressive academics (Philip Cohen, “How to Live in a World Where Marriage Is in Decline”), journalists (Katie Roiphe, “New York Times, Stop Moralizing About Single Mothers”), and pundits (Matthew Yglesias, “The ‘Decline’ of Marriage Isn’t a Problem”) who seek to minimize or deny the importance of marriage and family structure. That’s because three new pieces of scholarship — a journal, a report, and a study — were released this month that solidify the growing scientific consensus that marriage and family structure matter for children, families, and the nation as a whole."

The studies and reports mention by Wilcox confirm many of the outcome problems that children who lack a married mother and father in the home experience, especially boys lacking the presence of their father at home. Wilcox says these children "are floundering in school and society" and details findings including problems in the areas of truancy and educational attainment, increased behavioral problems, higher cognitive disability, perform worse on standardized school tests and are less likely to graduate from high school. And the article details important new findings that states with higher levels of married parenthood enjoy higher levels of growth, economic mobility for children growing up poor, higher median family income and markedly lower levels of child poverty. Says Wilcox,

"[W]ith study after study showing that children, families, and now even states benefit from strong and stable married families, the job of those who would seek to deny that marriage and family structure also play an important role — the family-structure denialists — is getting harder and harder. That’s because the facts just aren’t with those who seek to deny the scientific evidence that family change is having a major impact on our social environment and — in particular — our boys.

The complete article is available at National Review.