- marriage like any other contract [is] most likely to happen when the gains are big. So we should expect marriages among low-income Americans to decline if women perceive declining gains from hitching themselves to the men around them.
- Low-skill men have had a rough two generations. The evaporation of manufacturing work has gutted their main source of employment, while globalization has held down their wages. Marriage has declined the most among men whose wages have declined the most (see graph below--hit to enlarge).
- Thompson quotes from The Truly Disadvantaged author William Julius Wilson, who argues that "high rates of unemployment and incarceration mean. . .the local dating pool [is] populated by unmarriageable men--[so] women chose to live independently."
- Thomson also believes it’s much easier to raise a child and keep a home given modern household innovations, including cheap prepared foods, cheap clothes, machines to wash and dry, and to vacuum. Machines not only encourage women to seek work, but also make it easier for them to raise a child alone.
To Thompson, it’s pretty much economic determinism, a concept associated with Marxism. At least Thompson, however, sees family breakdown as a problem.
This blog, in contrast to Thompson, has repeatedly followed the lead of Charles Murray, whose book Coming Apart first and best documents family breakdown in the white working class since the 1960s. Murray pins the breakdown on “Hollywood” values combined with government policies that encourage single (female) parent families, while lowering the importance of (male) employment.