Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Susan St John v Lindsay Mitchell on child poverty


Social science academic and would-be policy-maker Susan St John takes issue with Lindsay Mitchell’s report, blogged here yesterday, that found a strong correlation between relative child poverty and single-parent families, saying

We can agree with her that sole parents and their children have higher rates of child poverty compared to married or defacto couples with children. But around 50% of poor children come from two-parent households.

Which is pretty much what Lindsay’s report says as well, i.e.,

51% of children in poverty live in single parent families.
Single parents have the lowest home ownership rates and the highest debt ratios.
Children in sole parent families are often exposed to persistent poverty and constrained upward mobility.

So this is not a battle of statistics. It’s a battle of conclusions. Lindsay sees that correlation and concludes that more attention should be given to family structure. St John sees the same correlation and concludes “coupledom itself hardly seems to be the answer.”

Yet at they very same time she also finds it “deeply offensive” for Lindsay to point out “marriage has fallen out of favour with most social science academics and policy-makers.” Only one so named would be able to square that circle.


1 comment:

  1. I can agree that 'coupledom' is not a solution to poverty in itself. But the reason St John won't like this correlation being pointed out is it suggests individual values and life choices have an influence on poverty (which it obviously does). Acknowledging this would be an anathema to the meme being pushed that it's *our* problem and gov't has to do something about it.


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