Understanding Out-of-Wedlock Black Births

Generic image (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
Generic image (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Conventional wisdom says that black people who are married have more children, but Atlantic editor Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that statistics show the opposite.

There is nothing "immoral" or "pathological" about deciding not to marry. In the glorious black past, women who made that decision were more — not less — likely to become mothers. People who are truly concerned about the percentage of out of wedlock births would do well to hector married black women for moral duty to churn out babies in the manner of their glorious foremothers. But no one would do that. Because it would be absurd.

Theories of cultural decline are irrelevant. Policy not so much. Given the contact rates between the justice system and young black men, and given how that contact affects your employment prospects, the decision by many black women to not marry, and to have less children, strikes me as logical. If we want to change marriage rates, we need to change our policies. Nostalgia is magic. Policy is the hero.

Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' entire piece at The Atlantic.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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