Both poverty and income inequality are highly correlated with the prevalence of single-parent households. It’s not clear whether single parenting creates poverty and inequality, or if poverty and inequality create single parenting. –Brookings Institute
Income inequality is one of the most pressing challenges facing America today. A series of reports from the Brookings Institute lay out a set of social patterns that tend to increase income inequality. One set makes the case that income inequality is increased by “assortative mating.” This is where individuals tend to choose socio-economically similar mates. That is, the well-educated rich tend to mate with the well-educated rich, and the less-educated poor tend to mate with the less-educated poor.
“Assortative mating” is a self-reinforcing intergenerational pattern. Children’s education attainment is highly correlated with their parents educational attainment–especially if both biological parents have similar attainment levels. This accentuates income inequality across generations.
But the circumstance that overwhelms all other factors is the increase in single-parent family units. Both poverty and income inequality are highly correlated with growing numbers of single-parent households. Where there is single-parenting there is also high levels of poverty and income inequality–regardless of other socio-economic factors, according to the Brookings Institute.
Two-parent families go far in reducing income inequality. The greatest economic benefit of two-parent homes is “income pooling”. As the Brookings Institute concluded, “marriage is the means; income pooling is the end.” Young adults should be encouraged to pursue life with the “success sequence” in mind–education, work, marriage and parenthood–in that order. It turns out that the order of these key life events has a large impact on both poverty and income inequality, Brookings concluded. Ending the marriage penalty for means-tested welfare programs (which discourages marriage) and keeping marriages together would also reduce income inequality.
Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center, receives young parents from their traditional public high schools, provides day care and Head Start for their children, teaches them parenting skills, helps them earn their high school diploma, and provides privately funded applied tech and college scholarships for those who qualify. Horizonte provides help and opportunity where none otherwise exists.