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Decline in Marriageable Males

The topic I consider the most newsworthy emerging from the boy troubles gets discussed in this WaPo commentary by columnist Harold Meyerson. As he points out, the phenomenon has spread to white, working class males:

The social pathologies long associated with the inner-city poor - single-parent households, births out of wedlock, drug and alcohol abuse - now stalk the white working class in rural and post-industrial regions far removed from big cities. The middle is falling. Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, has noted that as wages and employment levels have fallen for the Americans who have graduated high school but not college, their level of out-of-wedlock births (44 percent) has approached that of Americans who haven't completed high school (54 percent). Americans with college diplomas or more, by contrast, have a rate of just 6 percent.

The great sociologist William Julius Wilson has long argued that the key to the unraveling of the lives of the African American poor was the decline in the number of "marriageable males" as work disappeared from the inner city. Much the same could now be said of working-class whites in neighborhoods that may not look like the ghettos of Cleveland or Detroit but in which productive economic activity is increasingly hard to find.

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