Jeb Bush and Single Mothers Poverty Is about Being Poor, Not about Being Unwed

By Blow, Charles M | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), June 22, 2015 | Go to article overview

Jeb Bush and Single Mothers Poverty Is about Being Poor, Not about Being Unwed


Blow, Charles M, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Last week, Jeb Bush was asked to answer for a passage from his book from two decades ago, "Profiles in Character," in a chapter titled "The Restoration of Shame," in which he blamed the "irresponsible conduct" of births to unmarried women on a flagging sense of community ridicule and shaming.

Mr. Bush responded, according to MSNBC: "My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn't changed at all. In fact, since 1995 . this book was a book about cultural indicators [and] the country has moved in the wrong direction. We have a 40-plus percent out-of- wedlock birth rate."

He continued: "It's a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we're in today and it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning."

But, as a 2014 Pew Research Center report points out:

"It's important to keep in mind that just because a woman has a nonmarital birth, that does not necessarily mean that the mother is 'going it alone.' For instance, in the U.S., more than half of births that occur outside of marriage are to women who are cohabiting."

It is interesting that Mr. Bush answered that question while on a European tour that included a visit to Estonia.

That same Pew report reported that 17 European countries (Iceland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, France, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Finland and yes, Estonia) have higher birthrates to unmarried women than does the United States.

And, according to a 2013 Unicef report, "Child Well-Being in Rich Countries," all those countries except Latvia (Bulgaria was not included) had higher ratings of overall children's material well- being (a measure of things like child poverty rates; child deprivation of things like three meals, including some with protein and fresh fruit and vegetables; books; regular leisure activities; some new clothes and properly fitting shoes; and whether the family owned an automobile, traveled for vacations, had a computer and had a separate bedroom for the child).

In addition to material well-being, almost all of the countries with higher rates of nonmarital births outranked the United States in children's health and safety, education, behaviors and risks, and housing and environment.

We spend quite a bit of energy blaming births to unmarried women for our woes, but that is only part of the picture. …

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