Sociology 220 Paper – Journal of Economic Issues in 1998
Essay title: Sociology 220 Paper – Journal of Economic Issues in 1998
Is a poor kid from a single parent household more likely to end up in prison or become a teen parent than a rich kid from a two-parent home? That was the main question in the article by Dalton Harris. Dalton Harris wrote an article in the Journal of Economic Issues in 1998 that discussed the commonly held belief that low income and single parent families lead to increased sexual activity and drug and alcohol abuse among the youth of America. This article talked about the tests that were done on an eighth grade cohort after establishing their family background characteristics, “their propensity for sexual activity and drug and alcohol use after four years upon their reaching the twelfth grade, was measured” (Garis, 1079). The rise in the amount of children living in poverty and living in one parent households have caused some people to believe that this living situation has caused the increase in sexual activities, and drug abuse among the youth. “ There is a position held by policymakers and others that a vicious cycle exists between at-risk behavior and poverty, that youth at-risk behavior begets poverty, and poverty begets at-risk behavior”(Garis, 1079). Garis discussed how the studies pointed to a decrease in the number of two-parent families over the past years, an increase in the number of children living in poverty, and the rise in drug and/or alcohol abuse and sexual activity with the youth. [The main question of Garis’ report was is family structure] “both a cause and an effect of changes in youth at-risk behavior and poverty? How many of the changes in youth at-risk behavior are due to poverty and how much are due to changes in family structure?
Garis then talked about the results of these studies, which were very honest and accurate. Proof such as charts was used to show these results. The opinions held by policy makers and others say that the number of children living with a single parent has increased dramatically since the 1960’s. “ In 1985-89 there were about 2.2. million pre-marital births compared to 700,000 premarital births for the 1960-64 period. Between 1970 and 1990, the proportion of two-parent family groups has declined for whites, blacks and person’s of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) while father-child and mother-child family groups have increased [Lugaila] 1992,11]. Mother-child family groups have increased most dramatically due to the rise in divorce and births outside of marriage [ Lugaila 1992,20] (Garis, 1079). Other studies said that when kids experience their parent’s divorce it could have negative effects on the children. The children have to go through the divorce with their parents. The children unfortunately have to witness the war between their parents, which cause psychological problems. Garis talked about another study called the Kids Count Data Book [1994,12-13] that believes that kids “born to single teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school, to give birth out of wedlock, to divorce or separate, and to be dependent
on welfare. Other policy makers talked about the increase in children in poverty. They stated the percentage of children living in poverty. Twenty-five percent of children under age 3 lived in poverty and 22.1 percent aged 3-5 years lived in poverty, compared to 17.3 percent of adolescents age 12 to 17 in 1992” (1079). The Kids Data Book also says that single-family households have a high likely hood of being poor. Policymakers provided all of this information, but they still did not provide proof that poor children are more likely to become sexually active and drug abusers than rich kids from two-parent homes.
The author of this article says, “ Many volumes of major economic journals failed to reveal a single article on this important topic”. But, there were a few studies, with some background. For instance according to the Uniformed Crime Report for the