In his column today, George Will, a political philosopher turned pundit, offers a monocausal explanation of social behavior that would make Karl Marx blush. Apparently, "most social pathologies" ranging from "crime to schools that cannot teach" are caused by single parent families:
[Washington Post reporter and author Thomas] Edsall notes that one-third of American children -- and almost 70 percent of African American children -- are born to unmarried mothers. Then, in an astonishing passage about this phenomenon, which is the cause of most social pathologies, from crime to schools that cannot teach, he explains how Americans differ concerning what he calls "freedom from the need to maintain the marital or procreative bond."
There's no question that out-of-wedlock births are associated with increased crime rates and lower educational achievement (among other problems) and that the number of such births has gone up over time, but are they really "the cause" of "most social pathologies"? Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure there was no shortage of criminals, bad schools, or other social pathologies back in the 1950s.