Just a quick follow-up to Charlotte’s recent post about the scourge of fatherlessness in Baltimore and other cities.
As Manhattan Institute scholar Kay Hymowitz and others have written, the consequences of fatherlessness are especially harsh for young men. This is not surprising, given the crucial role that fathers play in helping boys develop basic social skills, self-esteem, and an understanding of manhood. In a widely discussed 2013 study, MIT economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman noted that males who are born into low-income female-headed households with no father present “appear to fare particularly poorly on numerous social and educational outcomes.”
Sadly, there are parts of West Baltimore — and many other urban areas — where family breakdown has become so normalized that married, two-parent households are virtually nonexistent. Boys growing up in those neighborhoods are surrounded by an entrenched underclass culture, which serves to perpetuate cycles of single motherhood, poverty, violence, and incarceration.
Here’s how the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it following the 1965 Watts riots:
“From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder . . . are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable.”