Child support payments create the new American family

Summary: Here are some mind-blowing facts about America’s new family system, and what encourages it and makes it work. No matter how traditional the marriage, what follows is often quite different.

Unmarried mothers are one part of the new American family. Divorce is the other.

Births to unmarried women

Marriage has been an institution in flux for centuries, but the rate of change accelerated after California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the revolutionary Family Law Act of 1969, retroactively abolishing the “traditional” binding contract of marriage and replacing it with no-fault divorce. The feminist revolutions which followed forced further changes in marriage. The result (not predicted by experts): a large fraction of women valued their independence more than their husbands.

A common pattern has emerged for women. Marry, have kids (with a husband helping raise them during those early difficult years), divorce after they’re in school, and collect child support. This gets the children she wants without the bother of having a husband (after some years of marriage). The resulting high divorce rate — over 50% — with roughly 80% initiated by wives, makes marriage a risky proposition for men.

The numbers tell the tale. In 2005/06 less 60% of US adolescents (11, 13, and 15 years old) lived with both birth parents, per the OCED Family Database (source). That was the lowest level among OECD nations. That number is probably lower today. The numbers are worse among the poor and some minorities.

This is America’s new hybrid family system. Its pillars are easy no-fault divorce and and the government’s child support system. The government aggressively collects child support from fathers, and supports the children when the father cannot (or does not). It is a subsidy for divorce. In Economics 101 we learn that if we subsidize something, we get more of it.

The family system-that-once-was did not die. We killed it. In the next section (below) the US Census describes what replaced it.

Marriage

Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2013

By Timothy Grall of the Census, January 2016.

Introduction.

This report focuses on the child support income that custodial parents reported receiving from noncustodial parents living elsewhere and other types of support, such as health insurance and noncash assistance. The most recent data in this report are from the Child Support Supplement (CSS) to the April 2014 Current Population Survey (CPS). …The report also shows trends over the past 20 years.

In the spring of 2014, an estimated 13 million parents (who are referred to as custodial parents in this report) lived with 22 million children under 21 years of age, while the other parent lived somewhere
else. The 22 million children living with their custodial parent represented over one-quarter (27%) of all 83 million children under 21 years old living in families.

Demographics.

The proportion of Black children in families who lived with their custodial parent while their other parent(s) lived outside their household (48%) was about twice as large as the proportion of White children (23%).  About 30% of Hispanic children, who may be any race, lived with their custodial parent.

  • One of every six custodial parents (18%) were fathers.
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of all children under 21 years of age lived in families with only one of their parents while the other parent lived elsewhere. About half (48%) of all Black children lived in custodial-parent families.

Marital history.

Mothers are more likely to be never married than divorced; for fathers it is the opposite.

  • Custodial mothers: 40% were never married and 31% divorced.
  • Custodial fathers: 28% were never married, and 45% divorced.
  • Similar fractions had other backgrounds: 16%/15% currently married, 12%/11% separated, 1%/1% widowed.

Income.

  • The proportion of custodial mothers with income below poverty (31%) was higher than that of custodial fathers (17%). The poverty level for custodial-parent families declined between 1993 (33%) and 2001 (23%), but since has not changed significantly.
  • Over half (52%) of custodial mothers had either legal or informal child support agreements (vs. 31% of custodial fathers).
  • About 68% of the $33 billion in child support due in 2013 was reported as received, averaging $3,950 per year per custodial parent who was due support.

Conclusions

This is just an intermediate stage in the evolution of the modern family. Only slowly will we learn about the effects of these changes on our young — and on America. I doubt we can do more than guess as what awaits us in the future as we continue sliding down the slippery slope of social change.

Of course, these policies are under our control. We need only commission research to learn what is happening, and devise mechanisms for rational sets of public measures to steer the family system in the desired direction. If we choose not to do so, let’s not whine about the results.

For more information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about women and genderabout feminismabout romanceabout marriage, about ways to reform America, and especially these…

  1. The revolution in gender roles reshapes society in ways too disturbing to see — Bloom on relationships.
  2. Love in the new world, after the gender wars — Allan Bloom on the ‘fall of Eros.’
  3. Men are “going Galt”. Marriage is dying. Will society survive?
  4. Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends which of these answers is right.
  5. Important: For Father’s Day: revolutionary words that will forever change the American family.
  6. Mark Regnerus’s essay: Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage.
  7. A look at America’s future after marriage becomes rare.
  8. The disastrous results of trying to “have it all”.

Two books by Professor’s Regnerus about the revolution.

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (2011).

Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy (2017).

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying.
Available at Amazon.
Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy
Available at Amazon.

 

34 thoughts on “Child support payments create the new American family

    1. 7zander,

      I don’t see the link between changes in our family structure and The Bell Curve.

  1. No fault divorce first. Yes, the social consequences are disturbing. But talk to anyone who got divorced in ‘the old days’, when it was necessary to give grounds to a court in essentially an adversarial proceeding. What we got was collusion in accusations of mental cruelty, or adultery.

    And yet, it is hard to see what other structure would have made divorce harder. And when you think about the effects of easily available divorce on the relationship, well, there are some marriages that definitely people need to get out of immediately. But there are others where if that were not an alternative, the couple probably would have worked through their issues because there wasn’t any other reasonable choice.

    I was told of one such case. They divorced, then the woman wanted to get back together and the man refused, then later he wanted to, and she refused. In a less permissive regime they would probably have stayed together and made up their differences and been in the end very happy.

    But I am not seeing how you bring that about in legal structure and family law while avoiding the suffering and stupidity of fault litigation.

    Then as to Child Support. You have something similar in England, probably in the whole of the UK, where a child for a teenage girl is an entitlement to housing from the local authority. So its well known that what you do is, get pregnant and get a flat as a priority and go on welfare. They are paying girls to have children at an early age, and so they do. Child maintenance collection rates from fathers used to be terrible but have probably improved lately.

    One agrees that the resulting situation is socially undesirable.

    But, but…. the state has decided it must make sure mothers with children are housed. And it is hard to see how to argue with that. So again, its hard to see the structure which will at the same time make sure they are housed, and not incent them to do it as a way of getting housed.

    And surely, men should take responsibility for supporting the children they father? Again, if not child support, then what?

    This is a very interesting and thought provoking series, as is the parallel series on education and radical liberalism in the education system. But they leave me feeling stimulated, thoughtful, but not very clear how all the various considerations can be marshalled into a prescription which would solve the evils that are so clearly pointed to. No easy answers I suppose. More in the education case than in the family case.

    1. Simon,

      “And surely, men should take responsibility for supporting the children they father? Again, if not child support, then what?”

      I assume you’re kidding us. Or perhaps not. Think about it. Step outside your bubble. Take off the blinders. It is not a difficult question to answer.

    2. “No fault divorce first. Yes, the social consequences are disturbing. But talk to anyone who got divorced in ‘the old days’, when it was necessary to give grounds to a court in essentially an adversarial proceeding. What we got was collusion in accusations of mental cruelty, or adultery.”

      What we can do is allow no-fault divorce, but no alimony or child support payments for the woman unless she had a valid reason to divorce. If the husband was abusive, then that is one thing. But if she just suddenly decided she no longer wanted to be married and would rather raise the kids herself and live with her new boyfriend, she should not be able to collect 30% of her ex’s paycheck.

    3. Jim,

      You go to the heart of the matter. Simple-minded responses (lots of these in this thread) assume that the choices are binary — go back to the old regime or accept the new one. But the range of systems existing around the world throughout history show that we have many more options.

  2. If you want to see the future for American families, look no further than the plight of the Black community. Their women sold out their men for welfare and benefits and in turn created a listless generation of youths with violent and neurotic dispositions and a penchant for the victim mentality.

    Fatherhood used to and still does play an important role in developing children into young adults. The successful demonisation and ridicule of fathers by modern culture had created a sick society which ironically, is supported by the very men they constantly heap blame upon.

    When a man marries now of days, he risks his social, financial and mental well being. In exchange? He receives the chance that he may pass on his genetic legacy but even that is in doubt now of days. Just look at France where paternity testing is illegal and where a man can become beholden to support spawn that are not even his to begin with.

    There is simply no incentive for young men to become the beasts of burden for a gynocentric and misandrist society which has chosen to remove the carrot for their labours in favour of the stick.

    The sad thing is, I think the gender relations are on the verge of collapse at this point. Men are tired of being treated as villains and tyrants and the popularity of sex dolls and the potential for sex robot companions will only further this rift. The sheer terror in feminist rhetoric against these developments is highly ironic, and indicative of how toxic women have become; they pride themselves in being more than sex objects yet due to their repugnant behaviours, will ultimately become replaced by mere sex objects.

    1. Nil,

      “If you want to see the future for American families, look no further than the plight of the Black community.”

      I too have wondered about that. The family structure of Black Americans is, in a sense, a large multi-generational experiment on the effect of single mothers raising children. Of course, there are many other factors at work. But still, it is a terrifying prospect.

      “I think the gender relations are on the verge of collapse at this point.”

      I agree. A future post will discuss this possibility. I’d phrase it more specifically as a collapse of marriage. Sex will still occur. But more like animals. A couple goes off from the herd to have sex, but it means nothing — and they return to the herd as separate animals.

      “Men are tired of …”

      Yes, there is that. And sexbots. But also women are going their own way. Single mothers, careers, and casual sex — plus marriage on their terms. Think of men and women as two lines that intersected in the past but now diverge. More about this in another post.

    2. The graphic says 40% for all unwed mothers. White people have the highest growth in this category, but the personal responsibility warrior crowd can’t talk about that.

    3. BBC,

      “but the personal responsibility warrior crowd can’t talk about that.”

      I don’t know what a “personal responsibility warrior” is, but I read a great deal about the rising number of unwed mothers.

  3. Human beings respond to incentives, and sooner or later, we’re going to have to think about what kinds of behavior we want to incentivize and why, including in women. I’ve watched good friends of mine go through it. One of them seems to be unaware that he’s about to lose his assets. His wife announced one day that she didn’t love him anymore, and that was that. The Court will be handing down his indenture soon. One fellow I know spent forever in litigation after his wife left him for another man, He earned a lot of money, but never had anything to show for it, and last year, his ex announced that one of the children that he’d broken his back supporting wasn’t even his.

    No, I don’t want to take away a woman’s right to choose how she lives her life, but the choices women make need to have consequences for the women themselves, because they do for everybody else.

    1. The Man,

      “Human beings respond to incentives, and sooner or later, we’re going to have to think about what kinds of behavior we want to incentivize and why,”

      Sadly, institutions seldom change in response to thoughts and logic. Marriage might change when enough men no longer find it worth the risk. Or rather, it might change — or collapse (in the sense of becoming a far smaller part of our social dynamics).

      Europe might be taking a different path, opening its borders to anti-feminist migrants. I doubt they are interested in the feminist model of marriage — or the feminist model of anything. Egypt, Iran, and Afghanistan show that women’s rights can be taken away — for a society willing to pay the cost.

  4. No, not kidding. Genuinely perplexed. I suppose you mean simply say to the women that its your problem, don’t get pregnant, and if you do, you’re on your own. So no state intervention in child support, either tracking fathers or supplying it directly.

    In the UK presumably you would advise the abolition of housing entitlement.

    Yes, its how it used to be. But it has consequences, in addition to the ones we would like.

    1. Simon,

      “In the UK presumably you would advise the abolition of housing entitlement.”

      You obviously have not made the slightest attempt to see what’s said here. I have seldom seen anyone with such a set of blinders. I recommend reading a freshman-level textbook about multiculturalism. There are other ways, other values, than your own.

  5. Dunno, what am I missing? I’m trilingual, and have lived and worked in six countries and all three languages. I know about Islamic countries. I have seen other Far East cultures. Maybe I have blinders. Just tell me someone, what is it that we can and should do about child benefit, and in the UK, the system of using housing benefit to basically pay young women to have kids as soon as its legal, and then go on welfare.

    Its not working. But what should we do?

  6. By the way, I may not have got what is intended from this site, but I have got a lot from it and am properly recognizant. A huge collection of reading that came as a great surprise – the two most brilliant and thought provoking so far are Tenured Radicals and Cheap Sex, both really making one think. And a whole bunch more reading coming from them. So thanks for this even if you think I am missing the point in important ways.

  7. I would add the duluth model of domestic violence that automatically assumes the husband is guilty of domestic violence warranting his arrest even if he was the victim.

    It is has a feminist slant: “Countering Confusion about the Duluth Model” by Michael Paymar and Graham Barnes, Research Specialists with the Battered Women’s Justice Project, a program of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs.

    There are women who brag about violence towards men:

    ‘I stabbed him with a fork and reversed over him in my car’” in the Daily Mail — “The secret Facebook page where women brag about violence toward men.”

    • Secret Facebook group ‘Bad Girls Advice’ brags about acts of domestic violence.
    • Women boasted about hitting men with cars and stabbing them in the genitals.
    • Facebook thread was shared by a domestic violence support group on Thursday.
    • Group administrator insisted to Daily Mail Australia the group is misrepresented.
    1. Infowarrior,

      Wow. No matter how jaded I get, the news continues to shock me. Thanks for sharing this.

      I added a fuller citation to your links, so readers see what they say.

    2. Indeed. And in regards to the Duluth model in the PDF I linked. This thing concocted by feminist activists is very evil in how it treats the male sex whilst proporting to protect women.

    3. Infowarrior,

      Lots of that coming out now from feminists. Many suspected that a hatred of men (or desire to dominate them) was a goal of some (many?) feminists. Every year brings forth more evidence of this. War of the sexes has seldom seems a more apt description of events.

    4. Indeed. And what’s interesting too is their masculinization may be one factor for it. Which explains their desire to perhaps dominate men.

      Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and social dominance: a possible explanation for the feminist paradox

      By Guy Madison et al. in Frontiers in Psychology, 9 September 2014. Abstract:

      “The feminist movement purports to improve conditions for women, and yet only a minority of women in modern societies self-identify as feminists. This is known as the feminist paradox. It has been suggested that feminists exhibit both physiological and psychological characteristics associated with heightened masculinization, which may predispose women for heightened competitiveness, sex-atypical behaviors, and belief in the interchangeability of sex roles.

      If feminist activists, i.e., those that manufacture the public image of feminism, are indeed masculinized relative to women in general, this might explain why the views and preferences of these two groups are at variance with each other.

      We measured the 2D:4D digit ratios (collected from both hands) and a personality trait known as dominance (measured with the Directiveness scale) in a sample of women attending a feminist conference. The sample exhibited significantly more masculine 2D:4D and higher dominance ratings than comparison samples representative of women in general, and these variables were furthermore positively correlated for both hands.

      The feminist paradox might thus to some extent be explained by biological differences between women in general and the activist women who formulate the feminist agenda.

    5. InfoW,

      That’s eye-opening research. I wonder if anyone has followed up on it?

      I added a full citation an abstract to your comment, plus the link to the full paper.

    6. The only solution is to hold them accountable. Because I believe to allow them to run roughshod over men and families is destroying in many ways our civilization.

      By sabotaging male-female relations it is wrecking our societies.

      There are some who are driven to suicide publicly:
      http://archive.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2011/07/10/divorced_dad_leaves_clues_to_his_desperation/

      A man named Thomas Ball burned himself to death outside a courthouse.

    1. Robert,

      That’s not correct. Women are quite capable of supporting themselves in today’s economy. As they pull head in the education races, they become even more so.

      It’s children that need men’s support. The reality is that women have a stronger interest in having and raising children then men — at least, today. Like so much of what we consider “female” behavior, we might learn that this is the result of socialization (“pronatalist” indoctrination). Lots of women out there today that bear children, but lose interest in them along the way. Hence day care and after-school activities are growth industries.

      This should not surprise us. That’s been the pattern of the British upper class for at least two centuries. Pop them out, give them to a nurse — and later, off to boarding school. Perhaps women are wired to want to give birth, not raise kids. Perhaps they’re not wired to do either, and their interest in doing so is a cultural inheritance that will fade over time.

      This isn’t an age where assumptions help us see the future.

  8. Nice post. It makes clear a lot of things people assumed. I especially thought one point was important and would like to add to it.

    “A common pattern has emerged for women. Marry, have kids (with a husband helping raise them during those early difficult years), divorce after they’re in school, and collect child support. This gets the children she wants without the bother of having a husband (after some years of marriage).”

    The relationship between men and women is just one element of what’s going on. There is also the woman’s relationship with the kids. For women after divorce, the kids are no longer “our kids” but “my kids.” This is another unintended effect of the court system assigning kids to one spouse. They become a possession, if only on a subconscious level.

    What I’m seeing now on social media are women who get married briefly, then cast aside the husband and become a sort of “couple” (this is the only word that fits) with the child. If it’s a girl, she becomes her “best friend.” If it’s a boy, he’s her “little man.” Photos alone tell the story. These women inevitably pose with their children in the same way they previously did with their man. (Someday, sociologists will look back on this and wonder.)

    In essence, the kid becomes a surrogate spouse. The term “surrogate spouse” was invented by psychologists to describe relationships in which adults enlist a child to take on the emotional supporting of role of adult.

    That phrase also connoted something abnormal. My fear is that this is now so widespread that it’s becoming the norm. “Emotional incest” with children is slowly replacing standard marriage for women.

    I think this is the reason we’re seeing so much dysfunction with Millennials. Years ago, mom and dad were a team and pushed the kids along on their way to adulthood. But today, the parent-child relationship seems to go on and on because when the kids go away, it’s like a second divorce for mom. Not good.

  9. Fabius and Dalrock,

    do not forget Dr. Stephen Baskerville, whose books include

    • “Taken Into Custody” (The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family), and
    • “The New Politics of Sex” (The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power).

    https://www.amazon.com/New-Politics-Sex-Revolution-Governmental-ebook/dp/B074W9QGF9/

    Excerpt here from the former book here: Witch Hunts in Contemporary America — Is the United States Turning Into a Fascist Country?:
    https://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2008/06/witch-hunts-in-contemporary-america-is.html
    (no, the title is — unfortunately — not over the top)

    More here (both from SB and from other sources):
    https://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/search?q=Stephen+Baskerville

    1. Eriksvane,

      Thanks for the tips!

      A trivia note: whatever we’re becoming, it is not fascist. That’s an actual thing, not just (as it is commonly used) a bad nation. I don’t know what to call it, perhaps a form of soft totalitarianism.

  10. Email from a reader

    ——————————

    It’s of my opinion that the social contract between men and women has been broken since I was born (1996). I have no desire in promoting a massive liability to my life’s good fortune by subjugating myself to a woman in any long-term relationship (marriage/dating).

    The role of father will continue to be filled by government for strong independent single mothers in the form of child support/welfare/alimony. I already fund enough single mothers/support feminism with my federal/state/city taxes.

    I foresee a bachelor’s tax on single men in the future and that only re-enforces my convictions that marriage/dating is a raw deal.

    As an added protection, I don’t spend any time alone with a woman and will never mentor a female coworker. I wouldn’t want to be accused of mansplain’ing.

    This all will continue to get worse but when you’re writing the tombstone, don’t forget the root cause: WW2/Feminism.

    I really enjoyed your article!

    1. “It’s of my opinion that the social contract between men and women has been broken since I was born (1996).”

      I have two sons — 23 and 28. Plus I know many of the young men I lead during 15 years as a Boy Scout leader. Many of them say similar things.  Of course, women have learned over a hundred thousand years how to deal with men.  They are the same species, and have the same ingenuity, drive, and adaptability as men.  We will see how the next decade evolves.

      I have written a lot about this issue, imo one of the most important – but seldom mentioned — facing the West. Here they are, looking at this from different perspectives (it’s so big, there is no answer).

      1. Do we want to bring back traditional marriage? What is traditional marriage?
      2. Men are “going Galt”. Marriage is dying. Will society survive?
      3. Men are abandoning the rat race, & changing American society. — See the data.
      4. Why men are avoiding work and marriage.
      5. Will young men break America’s family structure?
      6. Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends which of these answers is right.
      7. Our society will be shaped by technology as porn and sexbots destroy 21st century marriage.
      8. For Father’s Day: revolutionary words that will forever change the American family.
      9. Classic films show what marriage was. Facts show its death.
      10. Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage.
      11. Child support payments create the new American family.
      12. The coming crash as men and women go their own way.

Leave a Reply