"Poverty is most prevalent in non-intact families [and] single-parent families are significantly more likely to fall into poverty than are married-couple families," he writes.
Fagan, a social scientist specializing in marriage and family, offers this analysis on his Marripedia website. If he's correct-and the numbers bear him out-the central problem underlying the problem of child poverty is family breakdown.
But the problem underlying family breakdown is essentially cultural. Or, if an old-fashioned word can be pardoned: moral. What we're witnessing here is in large measure a product of a collapse of marriage-related values.
Critics dismiss this line of reasoning as moralistic, but it's not. There is nothing invidiously judgmental about tracing a glaring social problem to its roots in destructive human behavior. In fact, if there is any moralism at work here, it's the moralism of critics who are committed to defending moral libertarianism.
The good news is that the two-parent family remains the most common form for children. Last year, the Census Bureau tells us, 69% of the 73.7 million American kids under age 18 lived in such families. That was down from 88% in 1960 but still encouragingly high. Meanwhile, though, the percentage living with single mothers rose from 8% in 1960 to 23% in 2016 (those living with single fathers went from 1% to 4%).
Now take a look at child poverty. The link to single-parenting is clear. Over 2 million American children live in single-parent families, more often than not, headed by never- married single mothers. And in 2015 nearly half of all the kids living with never-married mothers were in poverty.