When it comes to today’s children, we often think about “privilege” in terms of the access to education, income, and good neighborhoods that some children benefit from and others do not. Certainly, these three forms of privilege matter for children’s welfare and for their shot at the American Dream, as Richard Reeves reminds us in Dream Hoarders.
But there is another form of “privilege” that is often overlooked in contemporary debates about children’s welfare and futures: that of growing up in a stable two-parent family—loving and being loved by one’s two parents, who are also committed to one another and to the integrity of their family. We know that children who grow up in such a stable, married family are more likely to flourish educationally, socially, and economically.
So how many of today’s young people experience this stable family structure throughout childhood?
The answer is about one-in-two, according to our new analysis of survey data files recently released by the U.S. Department of Education.1This figure is based on the proportion of 17- and 18-year-old high school students who were reported to be living with both their married birth mothers and biological fathers in 2016.2 The fact that they were still living in such families at the culmination of their schooling means that the vast majority of them grew up in them since birth. Some may have experienced parental conflicts or temporary separations, to be sure,3 but not the kind of conflict that resulted in permanent splits. Their parents were able to work things out and the marriages endured.
Read more at Institute for Family Studies.