2013 October 06 Sunday
Choosing Welfare Benefits Over Marriage

Hanna Rosin takes a look at lower class usage of "fiance" to refer to partners in long-time unmarried relationships.

Lavelle asks Big Toya to marry him, but she turns him down flat, because she doesn’t want to lose “her freedom, her food stamps or her subsidized apartment.” But he persuades her to let him call her his fiancée anyway.

That succinctly sums up the impact of the welfare state on lower class marriages. You might guess by their names that they are black. But marriage rates among lower class whites have plummeted as well.

Rosin found that welfare-over-marriage story in a book by Kathryn Edin: Doing The Best I Can: Fatherhood In The Inner City. Edin has written a related book: Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage.

We have lost the benefits of the selective pressures of the Malthusian Trap. See Gregory Clark's book A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World for a pretty good exposition on how those selective pressured worked to create an intelligent and prudent middle class in England. Now selective pressures are running in the opposite direction. This is the most important long term trend in the United States. Will offspring genetic engineering reverse the trend? Starting when?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 October 06 12:12 PM 


Comments
Sulla said at October 6, 2013 8:41 PM:

Genetic engineering cannot help the situation unless we are willing to impose it on others as a precondition of receiving benefits. And our future selves won't do that any more than our present selves mandate sterilization as a precondition to receiving benefits now. Really, all genetic engineering will do, because of who self-selects for such engineering and who will not, is increase the gulf between the conscientious/"Future-oriented" class and the not.

There is no way out of the present "selective pressure" situation you describe above. All that can be done is to separate oneself and one's loved ones as best one can and guard that wall with vigilance.

Randall Parker said at October 6, 2013 9:13 PM:

Sulla Felix,

When the upper classes have eliminated all their own harmful genetic mutations and they stride the world as incredibly high functioning and wealthy geniuses the more conservative among them will find ways to carve out their own nation-states. Then they'll bribe the lower classes to migrate away.

SlargTarg said at October 6, 2013 11:22 PM:

Genetic engineering could only occur inside a test tube.

It would preclude natural conception, and thus require a level of discipline that the lower classes are not capable of.

We are far more likely to get computer-augmented brains before genetic engineer solves this problem.

Vektor said at October 7, 2013 5:25 AM:

A class of genetically engineered elites would by definition have been conceived and born via assistance by medical/genetic science. A likely expensive and restricted process. If this class of people wanted to restrict the spread of the mundane classes, they would introduce changes (via a virus, or environmental agents, etc.) that would make it difficult to naturally reproduce, that is, reproduce without the assistance of expensive and restrictive technologies. They would have to ensure that the causes where not determined to be man-made and the effects would need to be implemented gradually as to not induce a public shock/outrage.

Minnie said at October 7, 2013 8:52 AM:

The use of 'fiance' is not very different from the Swedish concept of 'sambo' or cohabitation. Eventually the term 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend' gets tiresome, particularly for middle aged families with children. It is also a legal status that equates to domestic partner or civil union in the US, but the legal status is not necessary to use the term.

http://www.algonet.se/~hogman/cohabitation.htm

Minnie said at October 7, 2013 8:52 AM:

The use of 'fiance' is not very different from the Swedish concept of 'sambo' or cohabitation. Eventually the term 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend' gets tiresome, particularly for middle aged families with children. It is also a legal status that equates to domestic partner or civil union in the US, but the legal status is not necessary to use the term.

http://www.algonet.se/~hogman/cohabitation.htm

painlord2k said at October 8, 2013 12:24 PM:

Don Worry Randall, Dr. Darwin is coming back from R&R and will put up overtime to fix the problems.
Do you think Lavelle and LaToya will fare well in the next future when the government will really shut down (stop paying or pay with worthless paper)?

I listening to Jeff Berwik of The Dolar Vigilante.
How people will fare in Phoenix or Las Vegas when the cost of fuel and electric power wil rise over their ability (and government ability) to pay?
The Lavelle and LaToya of this world are able to live just because they are spoon fed by the government, but we know the government is broken and its ability to continue to spoon fed them is limited in time.
There will be the same phenomenon like in Russia after the USSR fold: people unable to fend off for themselves will die off and will be unable to have children. And they will leave free space to people able to.


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