Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Profoundly Balanced Piece on Income and Family Disparities

There is a lot of talk these days about the great income divide in American life. And it is great and it’s growing larger all the time.  I don’t really want to write that much about I there because I want to encourage you to a new article by Jason DeParle in the New York Times this weekend. 

DeParle has a rich history of writing poignantly and deeply about poverty.  I cited another piece by him in a recent post focused on children born out of wedlock. In this new piece, Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’, DeParle hits the nail full on.  Most discussions about income inequality focus on, well, income. Most people agree that there are growing disparities, and that these are related to a range of issues about jobs, education, opportunities, and taxes. 

But what is rarely, directly addressed in one place by one person writing deftly is the bi-directional association between income disparity and family structure disparity. They are profoundly linked—not in every aspect but, for millions of people in America, in very obvious and powerful ways. DeParle paints this picture deftly. 

Disparities in opportunities regarding jobs and education affect the formation and stability of families. But patterns of family formation and stability also dramatically affect income, education, and jobs.  It would be so refreshing if, in the policy world, we might all be able to talk about both directions being simultaneously worthy of solutions. There are not simple answers in any of this but it’s good to see someone embrace the fullness of a really complex problem.