Hardly a surprise

One in four mothers is now a single parent, having made a ‘lifestyle choice’ to rely on benefits rather than a partner, according to a report.

More than half of mothers with children under 13 have never married or lived with a boyfriend and find it ‘rewarding’ to stay at home supported by state handouts, it said.

The British Social Attitudes survey also found that most single mothers preferred to live without a man because so many are too feckless to support them.

To understand this all we need is a modicum of economics as it applies to the mating habits of human beings.

Human children are near unique in the length of time it takes them to become independent. They\’re also near unique in the amount of effort required to get them from birth to that independence.

Thus this whole idea of \”family\” in the first place. It not only takes two to tango but two to raise the results of having tangoed.

No, not talking about the role of fathers, as in teaching the ickle ones a few lessons about male role models and the rest, talking about the need for two humans working together to provide the resources necessary for the upbringing of the child.

Out of this we get the whole dance of the courtship game. We must not just show that we\’ve the genes for reproductive success but also that we\’re likely to stick around for a couple of decades to raise the kiddies.

Now, agreed, this hasn\’t always worked. And we\’ve also built a society where women no longer have that economic need for a male who sticks around. It is possible, even if still not easy, to raise a child or children on the economic resources available solely to a woman.

This is a good thing by the way. It shows that as a society we\’re rich enough for this to be possible. Also that part of those riches created by this liberal capitalism shtick are being spent on increasing the economic liberty of half of the nation.

However, there is also this flip side. If women who want to have children no longer need to tie their apron strings around a man in order to do so then we shouldn\’t be all that surprised that some of them decide not to.

The only way to reverse this is to reduce that economic freedom of women. Yes, this would mean a great deal more than a marriage tax bonus or a reduction in the benefits paid to single mothers. It would require barring mothers from the workforce (as some societies still do and as we largely used to….the well paid parts of that workforce at least).

No, I don\’t think we want to go there either.

We are, quite simply, richer and freer economically than we used to be. Single mothers are evidence of both this wealth and this freedom, certainly they are evidence that women are both richer and freer than in the past. Which leads, inevitably, to the conclusion that we should be celebrating their existence as evidence of how rich and how free we are.

Yes, I know, an uncomfortable conclusion for some. Still true though.

16 thoughts on “Hardly a surprise”

  1. Not sure I agree with the conclusion. I’m not sure we can afford a large minority of our future population thinking that money and housing is something you get, gratis, off other people. What happens when the minority becomes a majority? We can’t afford it then 🙂

  2. Tosh. Society can’t afford them and, more importantly, neither can the offspring of ‘life-style’ single mothers.

  3. “Also that part of those riches created by this liberal capitalism shtick are being spent on increasing the economic liberty of half of the nation.”

    That’s not capitalism, in my book; that’s a straightforward welfare state, socialist by its very nature. They’re taking the money that I earn and giving it to other people, enabling them to raise the children they had despite knowing that they couldn’t raise them otherwise.

    The fact that the state gives my money to others does not mean that I have a lot (“evidence of how rich and how free we are”), it simply means that they were elected by the recipients of other people’s money (turkeys, Christmas), and those who rely on them.

    To understand it, all we need is an understanding of how Parkinson’s Law of Welfare operates, and a recognition that some people are parasitic by nature.

  4. What Matthew says. “More than half of mothers with children under 13 have never married or lived with a boyfriend” appears to be one fact. Note it has nothing to do with how they support themselves or if the father contributes somehow or not. That they ” find it ‘rewarding’ to stay at home supported by state handouts” is just too ambiguous to stand – do they “find” it so because they do so (ie, they do it and like it – can’t believe that, myself – the benefits are not luxurious), or is that an attitude of some kind, nothing to do with whether they are working hard, living at home with parents, whatever? I hate that kind of slippery narrative – can’t tell what they really mean, so we supply our own prejudices or preconceptions and do their work for them. yuck.

  5. In other words, the problem lies with welfare as it now operates, not capitalism per se. But I suspect Tim does not need to be told that.

  6. The benefits system distorts these figures, though. A substantial number of these “single mother” households do have men attached, sometimes very permanently. They just can’t admit it, because there’s an effect on benefits for the woman.

    This distortion is more pernicious than it sounds, because the men are marginalised and irrelevant to this economic system, and the kids know it.

  7. Tim you are talking out your behind.

    The state is stealing from us to support someone elses children, who will probably grow up to do the same as their parents.

  8. I think anyone who gives birth to a baby, with no means of providing for the child, should lose their right to bring up the child, and all corresponding state benefits. This would help to reduce the number of “meal-ticket” babies. But more importantly it would give those children a much better chance of a decent life in an adoptive family.

    This would present no hindrance to those single mothers who can demonstrate their ability to be good providers.

  9. Tim,

    the women are not “rich enough” if they feel happy to rely solely on benefits, surely?

    They have sufficient “income”, I suppose, but that is a very loose definition of “rich” when the income is gained from the coercion of others.

    Those others cannot afford it, for you will find most of those “others” have to severely limit their own choices in regards to children (number, housing, schools).

    It makes the thought of withdrawing the vote from those who gain most of their income from the State ever more tempting.

  10. Oh, re @Monty,

    To me the best policy is that new kids do not gain increases in benefits if the person is currently dependent on benefits. Become a widow with three kids, then that is one thing, have two kids on benefits and produce another, no increases.

  11. I am poorer because single mums get benefits.
    1) It comes from my income and I would rather spend it on my child
    2) We compete for housing or rather would do if I could afford to spend as much as they can with their housing benefit – out of my money.

  12. Quite true David you are poorer.

    And a lot of couples who delay having babies in order to get established in their career, house, etc are paying tax to subsidise the meal-ticket babies, and their mothers. They have fewer children so that the loafers can have more. This is madness, and a recipe for child neglect and abuse.

    I am glad that you have a child to your name, my best wishes to your little family.

  13. what happens when these single mums become 60+ – who cares for them as they start to creak.
    There was an invention call ‘family’ which often took on this role but nowadays – what now.

  14. In so far as women have greater earning potential than ever before and can therefor earn sufficient to keep themselves and their children then this is indeed a good thing.
    However, in as much as their happiness is increased by monies forcefully extracted from all men (including those actually supporting their own children), all women making different life choices, and their offspring, it reduces the happiness of far more people than it increase- indeed it reduces the happiness of more women than it increases.
    There is another consideration as well. Benefits are targeted at those of least demonstrable ability. I’ve seen no evidence that the mates of benefit claimants are particularly able. It therefor seems credible that a large number of people of low ability will enter the next generation than would do so without the benefits- who is going to generate the money to support them?

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