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Understanding Illegitimacy
Teen pregnancy isn't the story. The demise of marriage is.


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Robert Rector


The reason? Most liberal academics regard marriage as an outdated, socially backward institution; they have shed no tears over its demise. Even worse, liberal politicians and anonymous government bureaucrats have a vested interest in the growth of the welfare state, and nothing grows the welfare state like the disappearance of marriage.

Single mothers are inherently in far greater need of government support than married couples, so an increase in single parenthood leads almost inevitably to an increase in government benefits and services and a thriving welfare industry to supply them. Marital collapse creates a burgeoning new clientele dependent on government services and political patrons. When liberals refuse to talk about marriage and the poor in the same breath, they are guilty of willful neglect of the major source of poverty.

 

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For the statist, the collapse of marriage is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s no accident that the modern welfare system rewards single parents and penalizes married couples. 

The Left, with the complicity of the liberal media, hypes the issue of “teen pregnancy” — partly because feminists think girls should attend college for a few years before becoming single mothers, partly in order to strengthen their agenda of promoting condom use and permissive sex ed in the schools. (In reality, condom proselytizing is a bogus answer to actual social problems. Contrary to conventional wisdom, lack of access to birth control isn’t a significant contributor to non-marital pregnancy among teens or non-teens.) 
 
Liberal journalists and pundits deliberately remain silent on the far larger issue of out-of-wedlock childbearing among adults because they believe the collapse of marriage is irrelevant, if not benign. From their perspective, concern about marriage is a mere red-state superstition; the important task is to increase government subsidies as we build a post-marriage society.
 
It should, thus, be no surprise that President Obama’s new budget proposes to eliminate the only government program aimed at strengthening marriage in low-income communities. If Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have their way, the tiny, recently created “healthy marriage initiative” ($100 million annually) will be abolished next year. 
 
The statist Left is not content to merely watch marriage die; it seeks to nail the coffin lid tightly shut. 

– Robert Rector is senior research fellow in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation.

 



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