The American working class faces a
host of challenges, from stagnant family incomes to dramatic increases in so-called
deaths of despair — from drugs, alcohol, and suicide. But perhaps none is
greater than the decline of the married, two-parent home. Unlike 50 years ago,
stable families are longer than norm in working-class America. This takes a toll
on working-class kids growing up in a home without both parents — they
are more likely to fail in school, end up pregnant as teens, or land in jail.
It’s also hard for their parents, who are more likely to fall prey to poverty,
depression, and even deaths of despair if they’ve been touched by
family breakdown. So what to do? There are policy steps — like expanding wage
subsidies — that the US can take to strengthen the economic foundations of working-class life.
But the most important change just might be cultural: men and women in working-class
America must see that their futures — and the future of their children — depend on
renewing stable marriage for themselves, their friends, and their communities. What do you think family breakdown has to do with the state of working-class America? Let us know in your comments. Also, let us know what other topics you’d like
our scholars to cover in 60 seconds and be sure to LIKE and subscribe for more
research and videos from AEI.