Isabelle Sawhill: Dan Quayle Was Right!


Isabelle Sawhill is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institute, where she co-directs the Center on Children and Families. In The Washington Post, she writes that "20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms":

"...Twenty years later, Quayle’s words seem less controversial than prophetic. The number of single parents in America has increased dramatically: The proportion of children born outside marriage has risen from roughly 30 percent in 1992 to 41 percent in 2009. For women under age 30, more than half of babies are born out of wedlock. A lifestyle once associated with poverty has become mainstream. The only group of parents for whom marriage continues to be the norm is the college-educated.

Some argue that these changes are benign. Many children who in the past would have had two married parents could have two cohabiting parents instead. Why should the lack of a legal or religious tie affect anyone’s well-being?

There are three reasons to be concerned about this dramatic shift in family life.

... in the end, Dan Quayle was right. Unless the media, parents and other influential leaders celebrate marriage as the best environment for raising children, the new trend — bringing up baby alone — may be irreversible."