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The food stamp challenge: highlighting issues with social services (2)

3) How does this affect the kids?
From the article Expenditures of single parents: how does gender figure in?
Single fathers are much more likely than single mothers to own their homes. In fact, the numbers are almost exactly opposite with regard to owning and renting: nearly two-thirds of single fathers (64 percent) own their homes, while nearly two-thirds of single mothers (63 percent) rent their homes. Like income, home ownership is an important measure of economic well-being. For example, because owners can build equity in their property, they have greater access to loans in case of emergency or even planned-for events, such as their children’s education.
From The Kids Are Not Really Alright, By W. Bradford Wilcox, Slate, Friday, July 20, 2012:
Take two contemporary social problems: teenage pregnancy and the incarceration of young males. Research by Sara McLanahan at Princeton University suggests that boys are significantly more likely to end up in jail or prison by the time they turn 30 if they are raised by a single mother.  
One study by Bruce Ellis of the University of Arizona found that about one-third of girls whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood. This dramatic divide was narrowed a bit when Ellis controlled for parents’ socioeconomic background—but only by a few percentage points. The research on this topic suggests that girls raised by single mothers are less likely to be supervised, more likely to engage in early sex, and to end up pregnant compared with girls raised by their own married parents.
Prolonged family dependence on welfare can lead to a cyclical effect wherein the next generation is primed to trap themselves in the same pattern, rather than seeing improvement in their quality of life in adulthood.
A similar study by Mary Corcoran and Roger Gordon of the University of Michigan shows that receipt of welfare income has negative effects on the long-term employment and earnings capacity of young boys.

The study shows that, holding constant race, parental education, family structure, and a range of other social variables, higher non-welfare income obtained by the family during a boy's childhood was associated with higher earnings when the boy became an adult (over age 25). 6 However, welfare income had the opposite effect: The more welfare income received by a family while a boy was growing up, the lower the boy's earnings as an adult.17

The current welfare system may be conceptualized best as a system that offers each single mother with two children a "paycheck" of combined benefits worth an average of between $8,500 and $15,000, depending on the state. 12 The mother has a contract with the government: She will continue to receive her "paycheck" as long as she does not marry an employed man.

Daughters of single mothers are twice as likely to be single mothers themselves if they are black, and only slightly less so if they are white. 34 And boys living in a single-parent family are twice as likely to father a child out of wedlock as are boys from a two-parent home. 35 The TALENT study, noted earlier, already had found that children born to teenage parents are more likely to become teen parents themselves. 36
Research article: Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?
Bruce J. Ellis, John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge, David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, Gregory S. Pettit, and Lianne Woodward
In conclusion, father absence was an overriding risk factor for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Conversely, father presence was a major protective factor against early sexual outcomes, even if other risk factors were present. These findings may support social policies that encourage fathers to form and remain in families with their children (unless the marriage is highly conflictual or violent; Amato & Booth, 1997).
4) What does this mean for the national economy?
Based on the issues described following question 3, and the choice-based phenomenon described following question 1 versus the necessary adaptation described following question 2, we are faced with the problem of a self-perpetuating cycle of choice-based welfare dependency related to single motherhood. In other words, as long as it remains acceptable for courts to choose unemployed mothers over employed fathers for custody awards, the problem will continue, and in fact is likely to escalate.
This is not an indefinitely sustainable system.
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