National Journal Magazine - Do 'Family Values' Weaken Families?
The standard "Red State" formula of early marriage due to failed/no birth control used to make blue-collar man and women out of boys an girls. But in the global economy and education-driven information age, it's a recipe for tragedy. The future is made for family-planning, late-marrying Blue Staters; meanwhile, angry and frustrated Red Staters stare across the chasm between their beliefs and real life.
Cahn and Carbone's important new book, Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, from Oxford University Press, is too rich with nuance to be encompassed in a short space. But here is the gist.
For generations, American family life was premised on two facts. First, sex makes babies. Second, low-skilled men, if they apply themselves, can expect to get a job, make a living, and support a family.
Fact 1 gave rise to a strong linkage between sexual activity, marriage, and procreation. It was (and still is) difficult for teenagers and young adults to abstain from sex, so one important norm was not to have sex before marriage. If you did have premarital sex and conceived a child, you had to marry....
Even a flawed marriage was likely to be a stable one. Over time, the spouses would grow into their responsibilities.
That is what "families form adults" means. ...
But then along come two game-changers: the global information economy and the birth-control revolution. The postindustrial economy puts a premium on skill and cognitive ability. A high school education or less no longer offers very good prospects. Blue-collar wages fall, so a factory job no longer cuts it -- if, that is, you can even find a factory job.
Meanwhile, birth control separates decisions about sex from decisions about parenthood, and the advent of effective female contraception lets men shift the moral responsibility for pregnancy to women, eroding the shotgun marriage. Divorce becomes easy to obtain and sheds its stigma. Women stream into the workforce and become more economically independent -- a good thing, but with the side effect of contributing to a much higher divorce rate.
In this very different world, early family formation is often a calamity. ...
he new paradigm prizes responsible childbearing and child-rearing far above the traditional linkage of sex, marriage, and procreation. Instead of emphasizing abstinence until marriage, it enjoins: Don't form a family until after you have finished your education and are equipped for responsibility. In other words, adults form families.
I was raised by a blue-collar young-marrying couple, and this paradigm shift was only blindingly obvious
to me during my teens. I'm not sure why nearly half the country remains attached to an outmoded belief system. Because Jesus said so? Wait, he didn't.