The Corner

Kudos to Dunphy

Kudos to Jack Dunphy for his very moving column today on the death of Bryan Lockley. You name the social pathology, and illegitimacy correlates with it, as NRO has long documented. According to the latest National Vital Statistics Reports of the federal government, 34 percent of all births in the United States now are to unmarried mothers. Of course, it will surprise no one that nearly all births to girls below 15, and 80 percent of those to girls between 15 and 19, are out-of-wedlock. But even among women between 20 and 24, 52 percent of births are now illegitimate.

Those figures are for all races and ethnicities. As the federal report notes, however, in a decided understatement: “Birth rates for unmarried women vary widely by race and Hispanic origin.” Among African Americans, 68.2 percent of births are illegitimate, versus 23.0 percent for non-Hispanic whites. For American Indians, 59.7 percent of births are illegitimate; for Asians and Pacific Islanders, 14.9 percent; and for Hispanics of all races, 43.5 percent.

Of course, “Asians and Pacific Islanders” and “Hispanics” are artificial categories, and this is reflected in the wide range of illegitimacy rates among their respective subgroups. Thus, only 9.0 and 10.3 percent of Chinese and Japanese births, respectively, are out-of-wedlock, versus 20.0 percent for Filipinos and 50.4 percent for Hawaiians; and the percentage of illegitimate births for Puerto Ricans (59.1) is double that of Cubans (29.8), with Mexicans (42.1) and Central and South Americans (44.8) falling in between.

I will not belabor the obvious point: To indulge in an understatement of my own, those groups with higher illegitimacy rates aren’t doing as well as those with lower illegitimacy rates. Finally, let me note that one can hardly blame the high illegitimacy rate among African Americans on racial oppression. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote the controversial report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” in 1965, the nation was only then in the process of ending Jim Crow, yet he was alarmed that “Nearly One-Quarter of Negro Births are now Illegitimate,” to quote one of his headings. Only the delusional would deny that since then the rights and opportunities for blacks have improved dramatically, yet illegitimacy rates among African Americans have skyrocketed.

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