“It’s instability, not poverty, that does the greater damage to children.”

Following on the NYTimes report acknowledging the well-known fact that income levels do not account for race differences in IQ, another report emphasizes that poverty does not account for the family instability.

This study followed “5,000 children and their urban, primarily minority parents.” Only 50% of the fathers were living with mothers at the time of the birth of the child, and “within five years, a tiny 15% of the unmarried couples had taken wedding vows, while a whopping 60% had split up. At the five-year mark, only 36% of the children lived with their fathers, and half of the other 64% hadn’t seen their dads in the last month. One-half to two-thirds of the absent fathers provided little or no financial support.” Things got worse when both the mothers and especially the fathers went on to have children with other partners.

Not surprisingly, the children are not performing well. They have more “behavior problems,” they are cognitively behind, and are more likely to be abused. The finding that children growing up with boyfriends and step-fathers are more likely to be abused is a centerpiece of evolutionary psychology: lack of relatedness predicts lack of investment in children.

The general picture presented by the report would not surprise anyone who has read The Bell Curve. This is assortative mating at the low end of the bell curve for IQ—lack of proneness to pair bonds and close family relationships, lack of conscientiousness. It’s what Phil Rushton would label a genetically based r-style reproductive strategy: a high-fertility, low-investment-in-children strategy that is much more comment among Blacks. (Here’s a link to the abridged version of his Race, Evolution, and Behavior, in 10 different languages plus an audio version.) The fact that such behavior is occurring increasingly among lower class Whites is deplorable — a result, in my view, of the loss of traditional supports for families that began in earnest with the 1960s countercultural revolution.

The op-ed concludes: “Eventually, the economy will improve. That’s not likely to change much for the children in fragile families.” Right, but best to leave it at that and not attempt to come to grips with the biological roots of this low-investment parenting syndrome.

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