Breakdown of the Family in America

“To many analysts of American society, the decisive single development in America during the second half of the 20th century was the decline of the family and of family life, and the growth in illegitimacy. The enormous number of children born outside the family structure altogether, or raised in one-parent families, appeared to be statistically linked to most of the modern evils of American life: poor educational performance and illiteracy or semi-literacy, children out on the streets from an early age, juvenile delinquency, unemployment, adult crime, and, above all, poverty. Up to 1920, the proportion of children born to single women in the United States was less than 3 percent, roughly where it had been throughout the history of the country. The trend-line shifted upwards, though not dramatically, in the 1950s. A steep, sustained rise gathered pace in the mid-1960s and continued into the early 1990s, to reach 30 percent in 1991. In 1960 there were just 73,000 never-married mothers between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four. By 1980 there were 1 million. By 1990 there were 2.9 million. In 1960, 24 percent of black children were illegitimate, compared with 2 percent of white children. By 1991, the figures of illegitimate births were 68 percent of all births for blacks, 39 percent for Latinos, and 18 percent for non-Latino whites. At some point between 1960 and 1990, marriage, and having children within marriage, ceased to be the norm among blacks, while remaining the norm among whites (though a deteriorating one). By the end of 1994 it was 33 percent for the nation as a whole, 25 percent for whites, and 70 percent for blacks. In parts of Washington, capital of the richest nation in the world, it was as high as 90 percent.”

Paul Johnson, A History of the American People