Dec. 26, 2019 – At the close of Democratic presidential candidates’ debate last week, Andrew Yanghighlighted a very real problem: “Our country is falling apart …. Our kids are addicted to smartphones or drugs. We are seeing record high levels of depression, suicide and overdoses. Our corporations are recording record profits while our people are literally dying younger.”
Yang’s comment about the tragedy of people dying younger referred to the statistic released recently showing that for the first time in 100 years (since World War I), the average lifespan of Americans is getting shorter.
Yang is correct to call attention to this sad statistic. The decline is stunning, considering major medical breakthroughs in recent decades, improvements in safety, improved knowledge regarding health and nutrition, and our booming economy.
But an important question facing us today is whether the progressive policies embraced by Yang and other Democrats are what we need to fix this, or whether they have actually contributed to the problem.
The reason for the decline in the average lifespan is not in dispute. Multiple studies, including from the National Center for Health Statistics, show that the decline is a result of so-called “deaths of despair.”
“Deaths of despair” include significant increases in drug overdoses, liver disease related to alcohol abuse and obesity, and suicides. Related to this are significant increases in homelessness, mental health problems and gun violence.
Why are we seeing such increases?
I believe there is a unifying theory that may explain it all: The breakdown of the nuclear family. This breakdown coincides with the increase in the problems listed above.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recently pointed out: “The American family is a rapidly changing institution. You may have grown up in the stereotypical American family – two parents and one or more children, with a father who worked outside the home and a mother who stayed home and cared for the children and the household. Today, with the entry of so many more women into the workforce, with the increasing divorce rate, and with the growing number of single-parent households, other family structures have become more common.”
The statistics are eye-popping: The share of U.S. children living with no parents or an unmarried parent has jumped from 15 percent 1968 to 35 percent in 2017, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
Combine this with the significant population growth over the past 50 years and we find that America is now home to approximately 20 million children who are being raised in a home with no parent of a single parent.
On top of this, in 46 percent of two-parent homes both parents are working full-time – up 50 percent over the past 50 years, according to Pew.
The liberal elites would have us believe that this is not a significant development. In order to be among the “enlightened,” political correctness requires pretending there is no benefit to children being raised in a home with their mother and father.
A recent survey showed that over 70 percent of Americans believe that living with a single parent is just as good as living with two parents. The truth is quite the opposite.
According to Princeton University’s Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, children raised in a “fragile family” (where parents were cohabiting or where there was a lone parent), were twice as likely to drop out of high school.
Even children in stable single-parent households were likely to not perform as well as children of a married couple. The study naturally concludes that having two adults providing time and money to raise a child means more resources for the child.
Single-mother families are more than five times as likely to experience poverty as married-parent families. Children are also safer in married-parent families and have a lower risk of being exposed to domestic violence. This is because married women are less likely to experience physical abuse than single or cohabiting women, and less likely to suffer abuse and neglect.
“On average, no other relationship delivers the kind of stability kids need like marriage does,” Bradford Wilcox explains in a study titled The Future of Children.
According to the Princeton report, “most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes.”
The American Academy of Pediatricians said in its 2016 report: “Fathers do not parent like mothers, nor are they a replacement for mothers when they are not at home; they provide a unique, dynamic, and important contribution to their families and children.”
And according to a London School of Economics report: “Some of the negative consequences on the wellbeing of a child born to a single mother can be reduced if their biological father joins and stays with the family.”
All this supports the direct link between childhood trauma and neglect and “deaths of despair.”
According to a Trust for America’s Health report on addictions: “Research shows that many different life circumstances, often rooted in childhood trauma and early adversity, can lead to substance misuse and mental health problems. Every child who has adverse childhood experiences will not necessarily have a substance use disorder as an adult; however, such experiences put children at increased risk of developing substance use disorders and suicidal ideation later in life.”
Progressive policies focus primarily on one thing: Equally distributing wealth. All of their talk comes down to money, bemoaning those who have too much of it and lamenting those who do not have enough.
But money does not buy happiness. It’s clear that children are better off in a contented home with two parents in a poor neighborhood than in a single-parent home in a rich neighborhood.
So, thank you, Andrew Yang, for raising this important issue. But no thank you to the Democratic Party’s progressive wealth redistribution solutions.