There are two Americas. One boasts solid families, well-paying jobs, safe homes, and good education. The other has children raised by one parent, poor neighborhoods, crime, and low-paying jobs. What has caused the divide? In this penetrating study, James Q. Wilson argues that the answer lies in the importance of marriage and the devastating effects of divorce and cohabitation.
Wilson's meticulous research shows how the erosion of family life has damaged children's futures, leading to school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, and a greater likelihood of emotional problems, drug use, and criminal activity. With precision and persuasiveness, he reveals the sources of today's crisis -- from the glittering ideals of the Enlightenment to the shameful practice of American slavery -- while also offering bold solutions. Incisive, intelligent, and thought-provoking, The Marriage Problem is a clarion call to rebuild the family, and society, by returning a solid marital structure to its core.
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James Q. Wilson is the former James Collins Professor of Management at UCLA and Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard. He is the author of several books, including The Moral Sense, and has served on a number of national commissions concerned with public policy. He currently lectures at Pepperdine University.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Justly renowned for his gift for converting opaque sociology into lucid arguments, Wilson here ponders the cultural dynamics of America's remarkable retreat from wedlock. Though some have blamed the nation's epidemics of divorce and illegitimacy on the tumultuous1960s, Wilson probes much deeper. His careful scholarship uncovers the subtle ways in which ancient African kinship patterns still affect social life in the inner city and illuminates the legal traditions that turned eighteenth-century philosophizing into twentieth-century divorce statutes. But Wilson aims to explain not only how marriage has lost strength in modern America but also why that loss matters. With a raft of recent studies, he shows that once a society loses the anchorage of wedlock, riptides begin to pull entire communities into alienation and despair. Wilson particularly laments the suffering of children exposed to poverty and emotional confusion by the disintegration of their families. And it is precisely because the toll of family dissolution has run so high that Wilson challenges his readers to join in the search for ways to renew wedlock. That renewal, he makes clear, will require more than legislative finesse by shrewd lawmakers; it will require a profound shift in the entire culture. Wilson's sobering analysis will help spark the kind of public discussions that often presage such a shift. Bryce Christensen
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