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Melissa Kearney featured in The New York Times on the interaction between economic growth and family formation

Social context partially determines the family formation response to a positive income or earnings shock

Thomas B. Edsall, a columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote an opinion piece, "Liberals Do Not Want To Destroy The Family", where he cited academic research to argue that social conservatives are demonizing liberals for the ongoing familial dysfunction.

Faculty Associate Melissa Kearney, in a corresponding email to Edsall, wrote "my read of the evidence is that the declining economic position of less educated men (both in a relative and absolute sense) has probably been a key driver of the breakdown of the two-parent family among less educated populations for many decades." Moreover, Kearney added that "...it will take more than economic improvement to restore the stable two-parent family in the communities it which that norm has been steadily eroding."

The report also cited the study by Melissa Kearney and Riley Wilson published in 2017, in which the researchers compared nonmarital birth patterns among 18-34 year old men in two regions experiencing sudden economic gains. Results suggest striking differences in terms of how increased earnings affect nonmarital births: as the coal boom reduced the births to unwed mothers, the fracking boom actually increased the number of nonmarital births. Kearney and Wilson concluded: "these patterns of responses are consistent with the notion that social context partially determines the family formation response to a positive income or earnings shock."

See the complete story at The New York Times

See the complete study by Melissa Kearney and Riley Wilson