Through Andrew Sullivan’s blog, some contrarion nonsense from Will Wilkinson…
A new study by economists Phillip Levine and Melissa Kearney suggests that income inequality is a major cause of teenage pregnancy.
Will Wilkinson draws a different lesson:
Perhaps we’ll be less eager to combat teen motherhood now that we understand that it doesn’t much harm the economic prospects of the young women most likely to go in for it. My own reaction to this news is to wonder whether it isn’t cruel to try to discourage relatively poor teen girls from seeking the comforts of motherhood, if motherhood won’t hurt their prospects. If we set aside as ill-founded our paternalistic economic motivations to reduce rates of teen motherhood, only the impulse to discourage the proliferation of those people and/or thatculture seems to remain. I’m not comfortable with that.
A child by definition “harms” economic prospects: they cost money, can’t contribute to the bottom line, and require time previously used to make money. It’s your current economic status that usually determines if it harms your prospects profoundly and permanently or not. You know what’s being worse for your economic prospects than being poor? Being really poor. You know what’s worse for your economic prospects than being really poor? Being really poor with a child. The worst thing about Wilkinson’s article is the last two sentences where he ascribes a mentality of racist or xenophobic paternalism to those who would like to stem or reduce teen pregnancies:
If we set aside as ill-founded our paternalistic economic motivations to reduce rates of teen motherhood, only the impulse to discourage the proliferation of those people and/or that culture seems to remain. I’m not comfortable with that.
Wilkinson also ignores the fact that impoverished single mothers utilize prenatal care less due to lack of access or affordable options, early childhood poor nutrition is also linked to problems later in life and that teenage pregnancy quite often affects three generations of the family: the new teenage mother, the child and the new grandparents.
Bryce Covert explains why a ”quarter of all ‘poverty spells’—falling into poverty for two months or more at a time—begin with the birth of a child”
What Wilkinson wrote isn’t interesting. It’s literally making the: they won’t ever be sh*t because they aren’t sh*t argument so why give a sh*t argument and trying to present it as some kind of egalitarian new way of thinking of impoverished single motherhood. He’s like some sort of Medeival guidance counselor pushing young maids to wed so that they don’t end up a lonely old spinster at 20.