Behind the Headline: The Unbelievable Rise of Single Motherhood in America Over the Last 50 Years

On Top of the News
The Unbelievable Rise of Single Motherhood in America Over the Last 50 Years
12/22/14 | Washington Post

Behind the Headline
Was Moynihan Right?
Spring 2015 | Education Next

In the Washington Post, Emily Badger describes the dramatic changes in family structure that have taken place in the U.S. over the past 50 years.

The data and charts she includes come from a new Education Next article, “Was Moynihan Right?” by Sara McLanahan and Christopher Jencks.

Research shows that children of unmarried parents face more obstacles in life: poverty, family instability, problem behaviors, and trouble finishing school, Badger notes.

How we should respond to these findings is an open question, and a controversial one, she continues. “McLanahan and Jencks are clear: None of these findings mean that children would necessarily be better off if their biological parents married.”

Instead, Badger writes, “we should give less-educated women more reasons — like educational and career opportunity — to postpone motherhood. And we need to improve the economic prospects of those suitable partners they’re searching for.”

– Education Next

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College