Family values in the age of household diversity
My R Street colleagues Eli Lehrer and Lori Sanders call for a more ambitious conservative anti-poverty agenda in the Weekly Standard. They identify various measures designed to increase work participation, like rolling back occupational licensing requirements and reforming and expanding wage subsidies, and they offer a nuanced discussion of how the right ought to talk about marriage…
…Threading this needle is challenging but necessary, as single-parent families are now so common that any effort to re-stigmatize them will end in failure, leaving aside the question of whether such an effort would be wise or humane. Lehrer and Sanders offer one take on how conservatives ought to frame a family values agenda in an age of “household diversity,” and this is a subject that merits closer attention. Though it is right to hope that we will eventually see a revival of marriage, I’ve argued that banking on such a revival would be foolish, given the pace of cultural and economic change. Indeed, it seems just as likely, if not more so, that the relative prestige of marriage will decline as college-educated adults, who’ve proven to be the bulwark of the marriage culture, turn away from the institution in favor of cohabitation. It could be that the U.S. will move in a Scandinavian direction, in which we move towards post-marital families, yet these families are actually more stable than U.S. families, including married families, are today. But again, it seems wise not to count on best-case scenarios coming to pass.