Monday, December 30, 2013

Why Obama Frets About Income Inequality, Not Family Breakdown

From James Pethokoukis, at AEI:
The Obama White House argues hard that rising US income inequality makes it tougher for Americans to climb the economic ladder. When President Obama gave a big speech on “social mobility” earlier this month – liberal pundits called it the “most important” of his presidency – he mentioned inequality more than two dozen times to pound the point home. And Team Obama has much publicized its chart illustrating the “Great Gatsby Curve” which suggests strong correlation globally between high income inequality and low earnings mobility.

How many times in such an important speech did Obama mention anything about American family breakdown perhaps impeding economic mobility? Just a couple of passing references.

Yet the issue of family breakdown deserves at least as much attention, if not more, from Obama than income inequality. Using data on local jobs markets from the Equality of Opportunity Project, e21 economist Scott Winship can’t find much of a statistical relationship between inequality – particularly of the 1% vs. 99% sort — and economic mobility. The EOP authors also find “a high concentration of income in the top 1% was not highly correlated with mobility patterns.”

What does seem to be highly correlated with mobility is family structure. In these communities, the share of families with single moms predicts mobility levels “quite well all by itself,” according to Winship’s analysis. Again, this result is not real surprising. Researchers on the left and right have found that kids raised by both biological parents fare better financially, educationally, and emotionally. And as the EOP scholars conclude: “Some of the strongest predictors of upward mobility are correlates of social capital and family structure.”
Some nice data plots at the post, so continue reading.

But seriously, leftists don't want to hear about family structure, because then the tangles of pathology that really drive poverty and structural unemployment for the underclass will blow up the left's lame inequality scam. It's all they've got to run on. The New York Times has more on that, "Democrats Turn to Minimum Wage as 2014 Strategy."