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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Happened in 1973?

Via Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek, here's an interesting chart related to income inequality:


One thing that's interesting, is that in the last 100 years, the very rich did not get that much richer than everybody else.

Russ dissects the chart:
Let’s just look at the bottom 99%, the clear light circles. Put all your biases aside for a moment. Just look at it and try to summarize what you see. I see four different eras. From 1913 until roughly 1940, it’s flat. From 1940 to 1973, it’s rising almost steadily, roughly tripling. Then for 20 years, 1973–1993, it’s basically flat. Then in 1993, it starts to rise but the increases are erratic.
I would describe it slightly differently.  There was a brief spike up during WWII, then things were roughly flat till around 1950 which is when Income Growth for the bottom 99% started rising steadily.

Russ wonders why the change in 1973:
When the left talks about the middle class being “hollowed out,” or stagnation in the standard of living of average American, they like to blame it on declining unionization, a fraying social contract between business and labor, or the rich hoarding more for themselves and leaving less for the rest of us via tax policy or regulation. But none of these kinds of explanations are likely to explain the sharpness in the change of the rate of growth starting in 1973. Private sector unionization has been declining steadily since 1950. I don’t think the social contract got revised in an especially tough way in 1973. And I don’t think the rich had a big confab in 1973 when they remade public policy. Was there a big change in tax policy or regulation in 1973? If there was, I missed it.
His explanation?  Well, I'll let you go directly to Cafe Hayek to find out the cause of flattening Income Growth for the bottom 99% starting in 1973.

58 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

Then, he finishes with:

---
And of course even if demographic change explains the change in the growth of the average standard of living, you can still favor redistribution to poor families or to families headed by women with children. But I suspect if we had a better understanding of the role of demographics there would be different policies people might support.
---

Now, after reading a few months of Libertarian ideas, I can only conclude those Cafe Hayek people were drinking whisky with their coffee when writing that post.

The only "different policies" that Hayekenists/Libertarians are interested on are to starve those damn lazy mothers so they learn the real value of work. And to close their legs, too.

There was this big and expensive car in front of me in some lane while I was driving in Florida, with a bumper sticker like "Can't Feed them? Don't Make them!".

I understood right then why Erp moved to Florida :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Do you realize that marriage is in fact a high (if not the highest) correlate for poverty in the USA? That's a statistical fact and it would therefore follow that decreases in marriage will lead to increased poverty. Should that simply be ignored because you don't seem to like the implications of it?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Not at all. I like marriage, I love family, I am all for saving every marriage possible. I am pretty sure wrecked families imply financial hurdles.

My point above is quite another one: it takes a high level of numbness for people not to stare blankly at such public display of contempt for the weakest of society.

Imagine how many mothers out there had their families broken and were left alone with their children to care for, and they still need to drive around reading in bumper sticks that they are to blame. Gosh, it is amazing I even need to expand this explanation.

Annoying Old Guy said...

What display of contempt? Observing the impact of the correlation between marriage and poverty? The only contempt I have seen was your original comment here.

In my view, if you are concerned for the poor, it is your duty to look as dispassionately as possible as the causes to determine the optimal mechanisms for amelioration. Which is exactly the point of that last paragraph, the one to which you objected. Is your view really that we shouldn't base policy on facts, if those facts seem (to you) to be contemptuous?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "I can only conclude those Cafe Hayek people were drinking whisky with their coffee when writing that post."

Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek is very thoughtful. His co-blogger, Don Boudreaux, is more the extreme libertarian that you've come to know and love here at GreatGuys and he makes AOG look like a communist. :-)

I would hope, that in between my Angry America frustrated sort of rants, that you'll note that even I have some small capacity for nuance.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
Is your view really that we shouldn't base policy on facts, if those facts seem (to you) to be contemptuous?
---
Again, not at all, you keep misreading me. It is my fault, this is the problem of using sarcasm.

I am not complaining about his remark that marriage and single motherhood is correlated with poverty.

I am only being sarcastic at his conclusion, hinting on policies to better target "women with children", when many of his readers can be aproximated by my caricature above (that guy with a truck with the contemptuous bumper stick).

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I believe you are both thoughtful and nuanced. I can differentiate between your rants and your more reasoned points. I was just giving my own ranting on this point too :-)

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Is that really worse than the "progressive" attitude which has mocked and degraded the sanctity of marriage thereby causing much of this poverty? That, to me, is no just callous indifference but actual malevolence. It seems to me a cultural elite that strongly encourage no children out of wedlock would do more to alleviate poverty than any government program. But that's so square. Better to have the poor suffer than look uncool. That's the kind of person I reserve my contempt for.

erp said...

Clovis, surprise! You are wrong again. This time about single mothers, welfare, child support payments and a host of other things that may be different in the rest of the world concerning the lack of responsibility among custodial care recipients and that, Harry's feverish fantasies notwithstanding, it is well known that by far the largest percentage of those in this category would correctly check white as their race on the new comprehensive government information gathering forms.

Having children with any number of different sperm donors is the source of income for these "mothers" who aren't poor girls led astray by unscrupulous lotharios, but smart cookies who know how to play the game. If babies weren't profitable, they would have abortions as do the middle and upper income women who do not wish to take care of a child for next 20 and more years. Few have any more maternal feelings than were shown them by their own female parental unit. The amount of tax free money these creatures receive is staggering.

Children born into this situation would be far better off in orphanages than living with the women who gave birth to them. Too bad Dickens isn't around anymore to write their stories.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Children born into this situation would be far better off in orphanages than living with the women who gave birth to them. Too bad Dickens isn't around anymore to write their stories.
---
With all your cinicism towards every living being around, I am sure he would have a place to you right next to Mr. Scrooge.



AOG,

I married with 25 years (my wife had 23), which by my generation standards is considered madness. I would marry again my wife everyday.

So you are not talking to someone worried about being uncool. And I still got speechless by that bumper stick.

Do not get me wrong, my experience in your country was mostly very good. It is a wonderful piece of earth, full of apparently very nice people. It is just that, from my foreign (and probably naive) perspective, you look to be losing compassion. Just witness Erp above, please.

Maybe this is a natural consequence of being too rich: you get spoiled.

Annoying Old Guy said...

you are not talking to someone worried about being uncool

That's been obvious from the fact that you interact with me in public :-).

The question was directed at you, not the description. But it goes directly to your response, which is "what is compassion?". To me, compassion is doing things that actually help, rather than things that make you feel good about helping. And I take the Hippocratic Oath seriously in that regard -- first, do no harm.

erp said...

Clovis, I'm cynical because all this drama has zero to do with compassion and everything to do with getting people to vote for leftists, early and often. I hope by the time you're 40, you'll fall into Churchill's prediction and realize you have a brain.

Your analyses are bizarre. Marriage isn't the issue. The issue is buying votes and using innocent babies as meal tickets.

I'm delighted you were able to rise above a vulgar bumper sticker and found something that met your approval on your visit to our country.

erp said...

Clovis,

On the compassion front: Here's an example of why I think many, many children would be better off in orphanages. At a board meeting, a government employee social worker shared with us that she felt bad because she had to leave a two year old boy who was being abused sexually by his mother's live-in boyfriend in that situation because, and I quote, "The kid's their only source of income."

There's your compassionate government at work. Plenty more like that, but I met that child and his face haunts me. Here's a surprise, I was the only who protested that decision and for my efforts, I was called a nazi. The other board members were a little hazy on history, but then they were educated in our public schools and had advanced degrees from prominent universities, and so were able to maintain their child-like faith in their compassion in spite of a small child's pain.

Apparently, you can't understand the difference between spending our money to advance the public weal and spending it to establish the elite left in perpetual power.

I like a lot of people. They're just not the same one you admire and what on earth makes you think I am rich?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
To me, compassion is doing things that actually help, rather than things that make you feel good about helping.
---
Then why do you focus on something - like culture of marriage - that is utterly beyond mine, yours, and everybody else capacity for change?

To expect people will learn to keep their families intact, before moving a finger to help, is not to do something that "actually help". IMHO, it is an excuse to do nothing at all.


Erp:

---
Your analyses are bizarre. Marriage isn't the issue.
---
But this is not my analysis. THat marriage would be the issue was Cafe Hayek's proposition, I am just playing ball with that.


---
I'm delighted you were able to rise above a vulgar bumper sticker and found something that met your approval on your visit to our country.
---
Ah, Erp's irony with my strong morning coffee, that's some good way to wake up.

I've found many thing to cherish in your country, it is just the good ones do not make good material to sting you with :-)


---
At a board meeting, a government employee social worker shared with us that she felt bad because she had to leave a two year old boy who was being abused sexually by his mother's live-in boyfriend [...]
---
I have a hard time to believe that, Erp. Really. I am not saying you are lying, but it is hard to swallow this one.

The boyfriend, the mother and *the social worker* belong to jail, for she acted as accessory for this abuse. In your place, I would have gone to the police to denounce the whole thing. My conscience would not rest otherwise. How could you not?

But more to the point of the discussion, you then think a bizarre case like this one is justification to starve all the other good families depending on some little help?

---
[...] what on earth makes you think I am rich?
---
I did not imply so. My comment was about your whole country.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Then why do you focus on something - like culture of marriage - that is utterly beyond mine, yours, and everybody else capacity for change?

Because it's not beyond our capacity to change. Our cultural elites and government have certainly made it much worse, which means at a minimum change could be effected by ceasing to do that.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Can you expand on this one? What would you suggest for that change to happen?

Annoying Old Guy said...

1) Reduce government financial incentives for out of wedlock childbirth.

2) Socially stigmatize out of wedlock child bearing.

3) Make divorce harder, legally.

Note that all of these are not new policies, but reversals of existing policies that have lead to the massive increase in out of wedlock child bearing.

There has been a decades long assault on marriage by the government and our cultural elites, leaving broken poor people behind in the wreckage, but that's OK because the people who did that were compassionate.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,
----------------
1) Reduce government financial incentives for out of wedlock childbirth.
----------------
You mean, to starve all those lazy mother?

That's a bumper sticker you may use in your car: "Can't Feed Them? Die Hungry!"

------
2) Socially stigmatize out of wedlock child bearing.
-------
And how do you propose to proceed with that? The Government should publish a Fatwa declaring all single mothers Impure?

-----
3) Make divorce harder, legally.
-----
Hit the little people with government, shall we? That's a quite Libertarian creed.



You see, AOG, your definition of compassion looks to be one where you would help only people who actually need no help.

If the person has a wonderful family, work hard, has been focused enough to economize every penny in his life, and hate progressives, you may lend him a penny in the event of his house getting burned, his car stolen and his children kidnapped, all at the same time.

Annoying Old Guy said...

You mean, to starve all those lazy mother?

Translation - "I have no intellectual or fact based argument, so I'll respond with pure emotional ranting".

I also think you're projecting - the only one to call single mothers lazy is you. Why such animosity?

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] The only "different policies" that Hayekenists/Libertarians are interested on are to starve those damn lazy mothers so they learn the real value of work. And to close their legs, too.

… it takes a high level of numbness for people not to stare blankly at such public display of contempt for the weakest of society.


It seems to me you utterly missed the point of this post. It has utterly nothing to do with judgment, or contempt.

Rather, it is solely an exercise in statistics in search of explanations for income growth changes over time.

Progressives have focussed on primarily on weakened unions, and evil CEOs; to a lesser extent technology, and almost not at all the collapse of socialism in China.

There may be merit in each of them, much less in the first two than the last.

But other things were at work, too. There was a New York Times article roughly a year ago about the growth in the number of single parent (primarily female) families. Among other things, that article noted that about 40% of the increase in the wage gap was due to the very asymmetric increase in these families — most of it was happening in the lower half of the income range.

Charles Murray's book Coming Apart also makes the same point.

People choose to marry, divorce, and have children. A great many of them, in terms of household income, are making bad choices. That is a fact, and there are reasons for that fact.

AOG's suggestions are exactly on point. What argument do you have against reducing the financial incentives for having otherwise unsupportable children? Should we pay even more? And it isn't as if these babies are going to go unadopted. One of the hotels I stay at in China — I was there just last week — is filled primarily with Americans adopting Chinese babies. They didn't go that far because there were too many babies available in the US.

At one time, well within my lifetime, there was a very strong social stigma against out of wedlock childbirths, no fatwah required. Rather, merely the presence of societal moral intuition will do. Instead, we positively enable the very thing we should be discouraging.

As for divorce, if I was the head dude in charge, I would eliminate the institution of marriage for everyone except parents. No children, no marriage. And for those who do get married, since there are children involved, then taking their interests into account requires that divorce be more difficult.

There was this big and expensive car in front of me in some lane while I was driving in Florida, with a bumper sticker like "Can't Feed them? Don't Make them!"

Harshly stated, but certainly you can understand the motivation. Starting in the 1960s, the connection between sex and pregnancy has been completely sundered. Pregnancy is now a choice women make. And far too many choose — for reasons completely unfathomable to probably almost everyone on Team XY — to have children they can't support, with men they know will disappear.

Then drop the bill on everyone else.

Why should we be happy about that, or not severely criticize these women's judgment?

erp said...

Clovis, as you can imagine, I don't care what you believe. My story, as I said, wasn't that different from others except maybe in the the candor of the compassionate social worker talking about it at an open meeting and my point wasn't the horror of allowing a child to continue to be abused so the family's income could continue, but that those at the meeting were sympathetic, wait for it, not about the child, but that the social worker was feeling bad about her decision.

Get it? The weren't horrified. This is a rule, not an exception.

The kid is disposable.

All these examples are showing that no matter that multiple trillions, that's with a "T" have been thrown into the maw of welfare and people are worse off now than they were before it started. Yes, no matter what Harry or Peter say, they are far worse off and I'm willing to bet that aol's share of that enormous sum was well over the penny you think we throw to the beggars. Maybe that's how it's done in your country, but here we give them prepaid credit cards, free housing, free phones, free day care, free help with their utilities, free medical attention. Only the drug dealers require cash on the barrel head and that's probably on the bucket list for next election.

Everything else is covered is covered by U.S. workers.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

----
Translation - "I have no intellectual or fact based argument, so I'll respond with pure emotional ranting".
----
I offer a better translation: "I have not further argument to make, having my point proven".

You (plus Erp and Skipper) just fulfilled the essence of my initial comment: that standard Libertarians would prefer to see no help at all for those mothers, hence turning Cafe Hayek's suggestion into a joke: "if we had a better understanding of the role of demographics there would be different policies people might support".

---
I also think you're projecting - the only one to call single mothers lazy is you. Why such animosity?
---
I only made explicit your implicit assumption. My honesty hurts your feelings?

Clovis e Adri said...

H. Skipper:

---
Rather, it is solely an exercise in statistics in search of explanations for income growth changes over time.
---
Please, see my comments to AOG on that. You too lost my point, which was simple sarcasm.


---
What argument do you have against reducing the financial incentives for having otherwise unsupportable children?
---
A simple one: the children is not to blame. To hurt they future possibilities because you disaprove of their parents actions is to hurt the future of your own society. It is self defeating.

There was a time, when our societies were more poor and dumb, when there was no option. Nowadays, not to help is an explicit option, and not a smart one IMHO.

---
And it isn't as if these babies are going to go unadopted.
---
So, based in your caricature of the displicent mother, that must be valid for only a small percentage of the total under govt. help, you would prefer to get back to those times when you are condemned to lose your kid if you fall under financial disaster?
Compassion must be an alien concept these days.


---
No children, no marriage.
---
You need to make some better arrangement with AOG. He prefers to deny birth before marriage. You want it only for those who already made a child. What is it going to be?

As a side comment, it is astonishing to see self-proclaimed Libertarians to lose north so easily. I could imagine a communist, or facist, or maybe a religious fanatic being so eager to control other people lifes...

---
Why should we be happy about that, or not severely criticize these women's judgment?
---
For all my modern scientific view of the world, I need to quote other kind of book to answer you this one: "Is there any person here that has never sinned? That person without sin can throw the first rock at this woman."

I believe we should keep our judgment to things we now very well, instead of passing it on caricatures on the wall.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Get it? The weren't horrified. This is a rule, not an exception.
The kid is disposable.
---
It is a good thing you do not care what I believe, for I do not believe much of your story. Neither its factual record, much less your interpretation of other people motives.


Still, I would like to make it clear for you: in my opinion, if your story is true, you are almost as guilty as the social worker you criticize. You were as free as her to do the right thing, upon knowing what you know. You scream bloody murder at them and did what by your part?
You look to even enjoy the whole thing, for it serves your demonization purposes.


Annoying Old Guy said...

that standard Libertarians would prefer to see no help at all for those mothers

No, you haven't shown that at all, only that we would not "help" as much as the current welfare state. There do in fact exists levels between what is currently done and nothing at all. You fail to acknowledge that.

I only made explicit your implicit assumption

No, you simply made it up. It doesn't follow from anything I, Bret, or Cafe Hayek, have written here.

AOG. He prefers to deny birth before marriage

No. I prefer to deny enabling it through government action. I have nowhere even suggested any government enforcement of such a ban. My preference would be satisfied by the government doing nothing at all, which seems quite different from being "so eager to control other people lifes". It is those who think the government should control people's charity through a welfare state that want to control the lives of others.

erp said...

FYI

As I said in my original comment, I everyone came down on my head and I was called a nazi because I made my opinion of the culpability of not only the individual social worker, but of the whole system, known. That's as far as it went. I could do no more. Nobody further up the food chain was interested in hearing the story, nevermind, following it up and as I don't have the unlimited resources of HHS and can't employ a lawyer, even if I could even find one willing to take on the system, to prosecute this particular case, I did what I could and resigned from the board. BTW – the owner, not editor, of the local paper was sitting on the same board and heard the whole thing. Everyone on the board were and probably still are card carrying compassionates.

They, like you, prefer to "just not believe it" rather than have their cherished faith in whatever you want call your non-conservative theology.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
There do in fact exists levels between what is currently done and nothing at all. You fail to acknowledge that.
---
We did not enter in details on what would be the ideal level. I just defend there should be help, and as far as I understand, your main argument is no help at all. If I get your message wrong, it is more your failure to communicate than mine to divine it.

---
No, you simply made it up. It doesn't follow from anything I, Bret, or Cafe Hayek, have written here.
---
I did not see you objecting to Erp's description of those women as "smart cookies who know how to play the game". On the contrary, much of what you and Skipper wrote implied agreement. I equate "smart cookies playing the game" with lazy people who take advantage of other people in order to not work hard. QED.


Erp,

---
They, like you, prefer to "just not believe it" rather than have their cherished faith in whatever you want call your non-conservative theology.
---
Already changing you story then? Before, they all believed it but would do nothing in order to not take away the family's govt. help, and they were all so sorry for the social worker.

Now they did not believe the whole thing, hence did nothing about it.

Keep telling your story, maybe with time you can even repeat it consistently.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I just defend there should be help

I read you as defending the current welfare state in its entirety. I wrote "Reduce government financial incentives" and you objected to that, which seems to me to mean you object to any reduction.

I did not see you objecting to Erp's description of those women

Then you should take that up with erp. I am not her master nor her parent, I am not responsible for what she writes. I have no doubt erp agrees with that.

erp said...

Clovis, my story hasn't changed. You have decided that what happened as I described it couldn't be true because it doesn't fit your preconceived belief that those who are on the take are needy waifs. That is not the case anymore, if it ever was.

Nowhere in this discourse has anyone mentioned that a girl's family should be their first line of defense, not the federal government.

If my daughter or the daughters of any of those commenting here, including Harry, became pregnant without benefit of a supportive spouse, legal or not, it's doubtful welfare would be their first choice of assistance. That is why I think that the needy are worse off now. The family unit and to a large extent, the community, has been dismantled until now there is very little responsibility for one's adult actions or those of one's children.

BTW the incident you seem to think there is some nefarious reason for me to have concocted happened over 25 years ago. Since then things have escalated to a degree not thinkable then.

Our country abounds in horrifying stories. There is no need for me to invent anything.

Annoying Old Guy said...

The family unit and to a large extent, the community, has been dismantled until now there is very little responsibility for one's adult actions or those of one's children.

To a large extent this was the goal. The family unit stands firmly in the way of the tranzi effort to reshape society to one of their preference. That is why the elites denigrate marriage, because that makes it harder to turn citizens in to dependent serfs.

erp said...

B*I*N*G*0

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

----
I read you as defending the current welfare state in its entirety. I wrote "Reduce government financial incentives" and you objected to that, which seems to me to mean you object to any reduction.
----
You are right. You only forget too easily that we are in different countries. I do object to any present reduction in my country's present meager welfare state. I can not give much informed opinion on how necessary reductions are in yours - although, as I understood you argued for no welfare state at all, I objected your point from principle.



Erp,

---
BTW the incident you seem to think there is some nefarious reason for me to have concocted happened over 25 years ago. Since then things have escalated to a degree not thinkable then.
---
The reason I do not believe you is that I have not found, in my life experience, large groups of people who so easily tolerate child abuse. The way you describe, no one caring at all, is quite unlikely to be true. So you must be giving a distorted description of what really happened.

And still, even if it was true, remains the point of your personal responsibility. It was cost free to enter a police station and describe the meeting you alluded to. No need for lawyers and all the other excuses you give to yourself.

My mother is a pediatric physician, and she found herself in similar situations more times than you care to imagine. Every time she found evidence of abuse, even more of sexual abuse, in any child at her hands, she contacted the authorities. She did so even in situations where she took clear personal risks, neglecting her own safety.

In such cases, to stand up for what is right takes no money and no lawyers. It only takes moral fiber.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] You (plus Erp and Skipper) just fulfilled the essence of my initial comment: that standard Libertarians would prefer to see no help at all for those mothers ...

Please re-read what I said above:

What argument do you have against reducing the financial incentives for having otherwise unsupportable children? Should we pay even more?

The welfare system encourages illegitimacy, which has led to generational poverty and destroyed (although not all by itself) the African American family.

To which your response boiled down to: the children aren't to blame, so we must continue paying women to have more children they can't support.

As a general proposition, it is true that your common, garden variety, everyday Libertarians do have a problem with some people making others pay for their personal decisions. If you disagree with that, I'd like to hear the argument.

If you don't, then you have a tough row to hoe in making an argument that the larger society should be compelled to pay for the decision that some women, many repeatedly, make to have children in the absence of any father other than the state.

The Cafe Hayek link in Bret's post linked the rise in wage inequality tracked the increase in single-parent families, but didn't spend a lot of time with the why. Besides easier divorce, there was this little thing called The Great Society. According to economist Thomas Sowell, The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.

Starting in the mid-1960s, Progressive ideas created what has become a monster. My cousin is a 5th grade teacher in an urban area. Her class consists almost entirely of children in families with multiple fathers, and mothers who have never had a job, nor have their mothers. Ten-percent of her class reads at grade level; most are years behind.

The degradation of family structure has become so complete it has become self-perpetuating. Eighty-percent of black inner city children were born to single mothers. The majority of these children never graduate from high school, thereby contributing to the wage gap.

So now that we have this problem, greatly aided by Progressive programs, what do we do about it? Pay even more?

You are right, the children aren't to blame. Who is when they have children? The results are already destroying their future possibilities; our largesse was what became self-defeating, because it created a social disaster without any apparent solution.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] So, based in your caricature of the [indigent] mother, that must be valid for only a small percentage of the total under govt. help, you would prefer to get back to those times when you are condemned to lose your kid if you fall under financial disaster?

You have misread me. I'm not talking about families upon whom fortune suddenly frowns. Rather, I am talking about women who by definition choose to have babies they know in advance they cannot support.

Back in the day, those women went away for awhile, and came back childless. Now, thanks to Progressive compassion, we have an illegitimacy disaster on our hands. There is a term for the kind of compassion you advocate: Pathological Altruism.

You need to make some better arrangement with AOG. He prefers to deny birth before marriage. You want it only for those who already made a child. What is it going to be?

Before the Pill, sex frequently resulted in children, and there was no state-as-daddy to step in. Marriage was the institution that protected the property rights of dependent women and children. After the Pill, the link between sex and pregnancy was broken, which meant also breaking the link between sex and marriage.

I am not religious, and I'm certainly not Catholic, but I have to admit the Church called this one correctly: breaking the link between sex and life would lead to the objectification of women as objects the breakdown of the family, and a profound reduction in female bargaining power.

My assertion is based upon re-establishing that relationship, as well as defusing the gay marriage issue, to which I have no particular objection, other than conceptual irony: it is surpassing odd that an institution that evolved to protect women and their children is now extended to couples that have neither.

Well, that, and the appeal of clear categories. Confining marriage to those who have children (regardless of the gender of the parents) completely avoids the impossibility of extending the institution of marriage to ever greater combinations of relationships. There is no possible assertion of the right of gays to marry that can't also extend to plural marriage, for instance. It is only a matter of time.

Anyway, since I believe that the only reason marriage exists is to protect property rights, then by definition it is an institution with state involvement. And since a huge societal side effect of marriage is the civilizing of men, then IMHO it makes sense for the state to give reasons for women to want it more, so more men can be subjected to its benefits to them.

Or we can happily go along the road we have now, where the complete breakdown of the family has had such wonderful results.

erp said...

Clovis. You, like Harry make my point for me. The people at that meeting weren't doctors, they were do gooders and in this country to get a government agency's attention requires a court action. Please stop extrapolating your experience with what's happening here.

Howard said...

The social and cultural points already made are profoundly important. There is a very simple statistical point made by Russ Roberts in a follow-up post which he reiterates in the comments section:

Before the divorce, there is one household with income of 80K and one with an income of 40K. So the average income of the two households is 60K--120K divided by 2. After the divorce, there are three households, one with 80K, one with 20K and another with 20K. So the average is now 120 divided by 3 or 40K. So because income is measured over households, the average has fallen by 33%. But every individual has the same income as before.

But you're right about the financial effects of divorce. Two can't live as cheaply as one, but two together is a lot less than twice what two people spend separately. There are economies of scale in marriage. So divorce is hard. I've left that out just to make the statistics point.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
You, like Harry make my point for me.
---
You must be a lousy commenter if you need me to make your points to yourself all the time.

If what you mean by that is my recognition that many child abuses do happen, it is ludicrous to think this helps your point. Child abuses always happened, the difference being that in "your times" it was guaranteed to go unpunished, for silence was the way people dealt with it. The situations is a little better today, and you think we have more cases just because they are actually reported nowadays.

Clovis e Adri said...

H. Skipper,

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The welfare system encourages illegitimacy, which has led to generational poverty and destroyed (although not all by itself) the African American family.
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I do not think you ever proved this point.

Not long ago welfare was inexistent for a large part of our population down here, and still those were exactly the ones having far more children than they could support. I hope this simple example would be enough to show to you that welfare -> illegitimacy is a fallacy.

Last time I brought this subject, you answered that birth rates are down in every place, as if this was explanation enough. The fact it went down here exactly when we improved the welfare system got too easily dismissed, for it does not fit your picture above.


---
As a general proposition, it is true that your common, garden variety, everyday Libertarians do have a problem with some people making others pay for their personal decisions. If you disagree with that, I'd like to hear the argument.
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That's a conundrum that only exists for those who did not think hard enough about causality. Many of your personal decisions propagate far away from your personal dominium. And vice versa, many of other people's personal decision will propagate towards you, may you want it or not.

We did not pay for other's people children for a long time in my country. It generated children living in streets, with wrecked futures for them and for many innocents who crossed their paths. Our criminality rates are a telltale of that, not to mention all the waste caused by those people not being fit to contribute to society in any meaningful way.

You look to those mothers and may feel, at this moment in space and time, duped by their use of welfare system to pass by without work. But did you think it through on what may happen if they keep having children after you take welfare out?

Annoying Old Guy said...

We did not pay for other's people children for a long time in my country. It generated children living in streets, with wrecked futures for them and for many innocents who crossed their paths. Our criminality rates are a telltale of that

Here in the USA, that kind of thing is most prevalent by far in precisely those places with the most welfare, much more so than in the past. One need merely look at the history of Harlem for an excellent example.

Similarly with illegitimacy, which increased massively with the advent of the welfare state.

Your claim seems to be that the Brazilian experience is more significant for understanding poverty in the USA than any thing that actually occurred in the USA. I don't find that persuasive.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
Your claim seems to be that the Brazilian experience is more significant for understanding poverty in the USA than any thing that actually occurred in the USA. I don't find that persuasive.
---
I did not claim so.

I see the many countries out there as different experimental points in a graph. Some arguments given here are contradicted by some of those points. And I try to focus on arguments that hint on general human behavior, hence independent of your passport.

A reasonable answer you may give me is that welfare may not necessarily induce illegitimacy as a general rule, but that some specific form of welfare practiced in the US does so. But this was nto the argument given here up to now.

What you need to show me is a graph of birth rates over time for people under govt. help under the already many decades you have of welafre system.

If it is a increasing curve, I eat my words and concede the point to you and Skipper.

The unfair part of this deal is, if this is a decreasing or constant curve, I do not think you will pay in kind.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Um, there was exactly that sort of chart in the Cafe Hayek article. Bret already provided a link to a book with that kind of data.

You seem to be under the impression that Bret, Howard, and I start with ideology and impose that Narrative on the world, instead of us having observed the actual world and deduced our ideology from that. Your version question here seems based on the presumption that we have not already seen such data, and that our positions on the issue are based on that data.

But here is yet another link with that data in nice charts.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Please read me again: I asked for birth rates over time for people under govt.

The data you refer to are only of single motherhood related charts. It tells nothing of birth rate per se.

As the argument goes, the women are profitting from welfare by having more children. That should imply their birth rates are increasing compared to pre or initial welfare adoption measures.

Can you provide that data?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

As the argument goes, the women are profitting from welfare by having more children. That should imply their birth rates are increasing compared to pre or initial welfare adoption measures.

No, the argument is that welfare increases out-of-wedlock births. Let me quote myself -

"massive increase in out of wedlock child bearing."

"Similarly with illegitimacy, which increased massively with the advent of the welfare state"

Or I could quote Hey Skipper -

"The welfare system encourages illegitimacy, which has led to generational poverty and destroyed (although not all by itself) the African American family."

Or going back to the original post, the claim that about why the wage growth curve slowed, which is answered by the increase in the fraction of the population in single parent families.

The implication is that these women are having more children relative to the rest of the population. It does not imply any absolute increase in birth rates, only an increase in the proportion of out-of-wedlock births. It is precisely that for which I provided data. To quote my link,

""In addition, the statistical link between the availability of welfare and out-of-wedlock births is conclusive. There have been dozens of studies that link the availability of welfare benefits to out-of-wedlock birth. [emphasis added]"

followed by the chart you requested.

You mentioned looking at basic human motivations. There is little more basic or human than "if you pay for something, you will get more of it".

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
You mentioned looking at basic human motivations. There is little more basic or human than "if you pay for something, you will get more of it".
---
I agree, and that's why I am focusing on birth rates, not on single motherhood.

I hope you at least agree that the reasons for single motherhood growth are complex. It is not only about welfare, for it is a pervasive result. The fact it is more pronounced among the poor can have a collusion of so many factors beyond welfare.

So I have chosen a more clear observable: "if you pay for something, you will get more of it" is true in this case, it must follow that welfare could be possibly inducing more births. More births in general, which also means more single mother births. So the best way to see if a relevant number of those mothers are "taking advantage" of welfare is to look if the birth rates grow as welfare kicked in.

Did it?

If it did not, it rests on your shoulder to explain why "if you pay for something, you will get more of it" does not work when you analyse the incentive to have more babies, but it would be working when you analyse the incentive to have more babies *without a father*. Remember I am restricting the analysis to the very same group of people under govt. help, hence subject to the same set of incentives.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

You wrote "single motherhood growth" - what did you mean by that? More single mothers? Or a greater proportion of single mothers among all mothers? Is this the same metric you use for "inducing more births", or a different one? Do you mean that if welfare induces more births, it must increase the total fertility rate of that population regardless of any other trends? For example, if the overall fertility rate for a nation goes from 5 to 2, to demonstrate a positive correlation between welfare and births, the welfare population fertility must increase above 5? If it drops from 5 to 4 while everyone else goes below 2, that shows welfare is a disincentive to fertility? Your question is so bizarre that I think I must be misinterpreting it somehow.

I would also note my argument is that welfare pays for single motherhood and you've agreed there is more of it. QED.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
I would also note my argument is that welfare pays for single motherhood and you've agreed there is more of it. QED
---
Wow, QED declarations come too easily for you.

I do agree single motherhood, measured in proportion to all mothers, has been growing. The data is very clear on that. What is not clear at all is the extent to which welfare plays a role on it. I mean, not clear for myself, I see you have no doubts on that.

The studies you quote find correlations, but so what? How can you separate the financial incentive from the cultural changes? Good luck with that.


---
Do you mean that if welfare induces more births, it must increase the total fertility rate of that population regardless of any other trends?
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You are the one arguing that welfare is the main driver for that populations birth habits. I am playing ball with that.

I would like to understand why you so clearly realize the phenomena is complex for fertility rates of the general population, but when it comes to one subgroup (like single mothers), well, that's welfare!

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

BTW, I must comment on your link: the part you quote in bold font above has its link broken, so I have no way to access the original work to judge that graph.

Overall, the link quotes a few studies associated to dubious sources, like think tanks that have been famous for bogus right wing non sense.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

My argument from the start has been a welfare state such as we have in the USA leads to increased out-of-wedlock births / illegitimacy / family breakdown. I have present evidence for this multiple times, I have quoted myself and others to show this is what we are claiming (along with, this family breakdown brings with it additional poverty).

At this point, honestly, I have lost any thread of what your argument is. Something about birth rates, but you won't define what you mean by that. I think my claims are clear and supported by the available data. If you don't, then so be it.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Well, so be it, but I'll also expand here my final thoughts:

---
My argument from the start has been a welfare state such as we have in the USA leads to increased out-of-wedlock births / illegitimacy / family breakdown. I have present evidence for this multiple times [...] I think my claims are clear and supported by the available data.
---
I dispute your claims are supported by available data, or that you presented clear and good evidence.

The only data you ever presented that hints so, as I remarked above, is related to a broken link to an untrustworthy and biased institute.

My final point is that your claim is mostly unverifiable, for it is difficult to separate the contribution of welfare from all the other changes in society, plus particular aspects of the target group.

I offered one easy way to demonstrate your claim - to check if birth rates of the target group had grown - and you called it "bizarre". Ironically, it is a logical conclusion of your claims that you call bizarre. (I agree it is a ludicrous conclusion, but I gave it based on your oversimplification about welfare influence).

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

I think it is worth to remark why I do not buy the "welfare state did it" thing.

First, there is the problem of causality. To point out a correlation means little if you have no further way to indicate what causes what.

Notice also the initial Cafe Hayek post only argued that difference in family structure correlated, and probably was a good source of, impoverishment. That welfare would be the driver of this change in family structure was only defended here by you and Skipper (I do not know why you included Bret and Howard on this one, they did not manifest themselves to this level of detail).

Second, there is the problem of culture. You generically framed it in terms of a cultural elite propagating this anti-marriage lifestyle. But this is ludicrous. What really happened was a cultural shock wave from the 60's (yeah, the Hippies and all that), and it is such a massive change to be framed as a simple "cultural elite" thing. I can buy that cultural elites may have duped us in believing caviar is good, but I do not think they had much to do with marriage decaying.

The decaying of marriage culture has, IMO, much more to do with the growing irrelevance of religion in our ocidental culture. That was the source of marriage traditions, and it takes a really biased view to forget that obvious fact and go for "welfare did it!"

Annoying Old Guy said...

I offered one easy way to demonstrate your claim - to check if birth rates of the target group had grown - and you called it "bizarre".

Because you refused to actually define the metric. The only interpretation I could make I considered bizarre, and asked you to clarify. You wouldn't. Yet you think I should use such an ill-defined metric as a determinant.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Please, take a look at this document from your most recent census:

http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-21.pdf

The initial discussion quite clearly states "The percentage of U.S. births to unmarried women has been increasing steadily since the 1940s and has
increased even more markedly in recent years".

It is also quite clear, by Table 2 (pg. 4), last column (at "Household income" row), that nonmarital births decrease when income increases. But please notice at this same table, column 1, that the large majority of births are between $35.000 to $149,999 of household income.

So how influential is the contribution of poor people to the nonmarital births? Well, you only need to take a look at Table 3 (pg. 7), middle column (Percent in poverty): it usually ranges from 10% to 15%, being 20% notable exceptions.

I do not know hou much of those "in poverty" are under govt. help. Assuming most are, the conclusion we arrive is that, typically, the contribution of under welfare people to nonmarital births is 15%.

Now, a quesiton for you and Skipper: can you honestly keep defending that welfare is the reason of the break up of family and illegitimacy?

If you make the call that a 15% contibution is more important than the other 85% in any experimental setting I can think of, you better have a great reason for that.

Howard said...

The decaying of marriage culture has, IMO, much more to do with the growing irrelevance of religion in our ocidental culture. That was the source of marriage traditions...

Clovis,

This may also run the other way:

"In this magisterial work, leading cultural critic Mary Eberstadt delivers a powerful new theory about the decline of religion in the Western world. The conventional wisdom is that the West first experienced religious decline, followed by the decline of the family. Eberstadt turns this standard account on its head. Marshalling an impressive array of research, from fascinating historical data on family decline in pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary popular culture both in the United States and Europe, Eberstadt shows that the reverse has also been true: the undermining of the family has further undermined Christianity itself.

Drawing on sociology, history, demography, theology, literature, and many other sources, Eberstadt shows that family decline and religious decline have gone hand in hand in the Western world in a way that has not been understood before—that they are, as she puts it in a striking new image summarizing the book’s thesis, “the double helix of society, each dependent on the strength of the other for successful reproduction.”

In sobering final chapters, Eberstadt then lays out the enormous ramifications of the mutual demise of family and faith in the West. While it is fashionable in some circles to applaud the decline both of religion and the nuclear family, there are, as Eberstadt reveals, enormous social, economic, civic, and other costs attendant on both declines. Her conclusion considers this tantalizing question: whether the economic and demographic crisis now roiling Europe and spreading to America will have the inadvertent result of reviving the family as the most viable alternative to the failed welfare state—fallout that could also lay the groundwork for a religious revival as well."

Howard said...

Jim Pethokoukis brings some additional information about the original post to the discussion.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

"The percentage of U.S. births to unmarried women has been increasing steadily since the 1940s and has
increased even more markedly in recent years"

Yes, that's consistent my claim here, and my more general claim that government doesn't create problems, it makes them worse.

nonmarital births decrease when income increases

Yes, that's well known. There have been a number of articles on this divergence and its implications for perpetuating poverty. Again, this is precisely what one would expect if welfare is a signficant driver for out-of-wedlock births, as it will clearly have more effect the lower the income of the mother.

I think your analytical problem is that you are looking at absolute values, rather than proportions. If you want to look at the effect of government policies on populations it is proportional measures that are the best metric. To test my hypothesis here one needs to look at the percent of out-of-wedlock births for welfare supported and non-welfare supported, not the absolute numbers. This was my point about your "increasing birth" metric. What is important is trends in demographics relative to each other in order to cancel out other effects that affect the entire population.

the contribution of under welfare people to nonmarital births is 15%.

Let's consider the theoretical case where there are only 1000 women on welfare. Let's say that welfare is 100% effective in causing them to have out-of-wedlock births, so that all of them do so. But since the female population of the USA is 150,000,000 the contribution of these women to nonmarital births is neglible, even though my claim would be completely correct, that welfare increase nonmarital births.

can you honestly keep defending that welfare is the reason of the break up of family and illegitimacy?

No, but then I never have. Do you want me to go back and get quotes from Skipper and me again? Sure, why not -

"a welfare state such as we have in the USA leads to increased out-of-wedlock births"

The data you cite here is consistent with that. My quote is not consistent with "welfare is the reason of the break up of family and illegitimacy [emphasis added]". In fact I have cited other causes, such as "a cultural elite that strongly encourage no children out of wedlock".

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

In short, you argument is that if a house is on fire, you can blame the smoke.

The same group had higher birth rates and higher illegitimacy before welfare. It kept having so after welfare.

The poor have more nonmarital births all over the world, including places where welfare is not even in the dictionary.

Still, you insist you can exactly locate welfare as one of the reasons, if not the main one, for that 15% of nonmarital births happening. The other 85% nonmarital births related to non-welfare users? Oh, that's another thing, it is the cultural elite's fault!

I give up on this one, AOG.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] So I have chosen a more clear observable: "if you pay for something, you will get more of it" is true in this case, it must follow that welfare could be possibly inducing more births. More births in general, which also means more single mother births.

I think you are coming at this from the wrong direction, for two reasons.

My primary assertion is that before generous and unconditional aid programs, women by necessity delayed childbirth until after marriage (or, to put it differently, they denied sexual access until after marriage). After generous aid programs came into being, the material motivation to delay childbirth (or, to put it differently, insist upon marriage) was greatly reduced particularly in already poor communities.

The second reason I think you are coming at this from the wrong direction, or at least from only one direction, is that you have failed to consider the other half of the population. In essence, these programs made men qua fathers more and more dispensable. Since being a father is more demanding than not bothering, and the state has made the male's provider role redundant, then the default presumption should be that men also will respond to incentives and ultimately internalize the idea that they are nothing more than sperm donors.

Neither of those are phenomena that will show up in birth rates.

Read this summary of The Negro Family: A Case for National Action. It was written in 1965 by the then Assistant Secretary of Labor, Patrick Moynihan.

Then read The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies, about what came after the report.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

I'll read your links, but let me reinforce that I am not denying the relationship between family disintegration and poverty. I recognized it from the begin.

I only (i) deny that welfare necessarily imply family disintegration in general and (ii) that data presented here up to now show that welfare has this role in the US.

I perfectly understand the play you picture above, with "easy money" making it easier to act without personal responsibilities towards parental roles. I believe it does happen in some cases, I can even guess 10% of the births of welfare dependent women would not happen if they were not under welfare protection. I do not see, though, that it is the *determinant* phenomena to explain the whole picture.

It is fairly possible, and this is what you see in many other countries with weaker states, that parental roles would be forsaken even in abscence of welfare.

And the resultant problem you would have, e.g. a similar rate of illegitimacy and nonmarital births coupled to abject poverty, would be far greater than the one you have now.


It is a valid complain, by anyone paying taxes, that your welfare programs are not leading their recipients to greater independence and self-achievement. I am only pointing out that, as disappointing as it may be, things could be worse without it.

I believe your society was built with a few imnplicit assumptions, like that its free markets should be as efficient as possible no matter the human costs. This configuration, for the good it brought, also necessarily produces losers who may end up with nothing at their tables. So, with time, people realized the state could fill in this gap and provide some cushion to those who fell on the pathway. This whole configuration never aspired to make everyone a winner, only aspired to make the losers not to suffer in hell.

Now, you look back and ask yourself: how are these losers not standing up for themselves? Do we need to pay for them forever? Well, guess what, if you did not set up the system to do that, how can you complain it doesn't now?

So most of the complains I see here are like peopl buying cars and complaining it does not fly! You, Skipper, with your many hours of flight, should know better :-)