Hypocrites and Inverted Hypocrites:

How Republicans and Democrats Send Mixed Messages about Marriage and Family Twenty-first century scholars often turn to economics to explain the dramatic changes in American family life since 1970—changes evident in markedly higher rates of divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and non-marital cohabitation and markedly lower rates of marriage and marital childbearing. Legal scholars Naomi Cahn and June Carbone are thus quite typical when they explain many of these changes by asserting that “the changing economy has undermined the path from abstinence through courtship to marriage.” These two legal scholars are still relying on economics to explain shifts in family life when they argue that maintaining “traditional [family] values . . . has become difficult as economic conditions reserve greater rewards for the well-educated and undermine the traditional [gendered] division of labor on which family stability previously rested,” explaining that as the traditional gendered division of labor died with the emergence of “the information economy . . . [which] created greater demand for highly educated women, rewarding greater investment in daughters as well as sons,” this new economy “created . . . greater pressures to delay the beginning of family formation.”[1] But such economic explanations of changes in family life have actually been around a good while. And those wielding such explanations have not always used them—as Cahn and Carbone do—to advance a left-liberal political agenda. In 1987, the culturally conservative University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson deployed economic explanations of family change with The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. In this book, Wilson explains the sharp drop in inner-city marriage rates as the consequence of economic changes that have made it increasingly difficult for urban black men to find employment as unskilled or semi-skilled blue-collar workers, so
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