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ERIC Number: EJ1061823
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Purposeful Parenthood: Better Planning Benefits New Parents and Their Children
Sawhill, Isabel
Education Next, v15 n2 p51-55 Spr 2015
The effects on children of the increase in single parents is no longer much debated. They do less well in school, are less likely to graduate, and are more likely to be involved in crime, teen pregnancy, and other behaviors that make it harder to succeed in life. Research at the Brookings Institution shows that social mobility is much higher for the children of continuously married parents than for those who grow up with discontinuously married or never-married parents. What does all of this have to do with education? Rates of unwed childbearing and divorce are much lower among well-educated than among less-educated women. More and better education is one clear path to reducing unwed parenthood and the growth of single-parent families in the future. The better-educated are much more successful at avoiding the arrival of a baby before they are in a committed relationship and ready to be parents. The relationship between education and the ability to plan a family goes in both directions. If young adults had more education, there would be less drifting and fewer unwed births, and if there were better family planning, young people could finish their schooling. There would then be more purposeful parenthood, more children ready for school when they enroll, and, later on, better-educated young adults making better parenting decisions of their own. While education is critically important, if the focus is only on what can be done during the schooling years to improve educational outcomes, efforts will likely fail. Not all human-capital development occurs in a classroom; some of it occurs in the home. Attention needs to be focused on what happens to a child long before he or she starts school. If the unintended pregnancy rates of low-income and minority women could be lowered to the level experienced by college-educated women, the proportion of children born outside of marriage could be reduced by 25 percent. What might be done to ensure that more children are born to adults who are ready to be parents and in a stable and committed relationship? The author's view is that much more attention needs to be given to changing drifters into planners, that is, to encouraging young adults to think more about whether, when, and with whom to have children. Backed up by the availability of newer and much more effective forms of birth control, as well as reasonable educational and career opportunities for young men and women, this is a realistic goal. It should help to reconnect marriage and parenting by encouraging young adults to wait until they have met Mr. or Ms. Right before having children.
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A