From Thomas Esdall (excerpt):
Conservative religions have proved powerless to halt unwed motherhood, cohabitation and other trends that defy traditional morality — in part because these trends reflect the limited authority of the old order in the face of a global phenomenon known among researchers as the “second demographic transition.”
Regions as diverse as Europe, Japan, South America, Canada and the United States are undergoing a profound shift in fertility, reproductive attitudes and behavior. The changes include rejection of premarital virginity, social acceptance of single parenting, and the replacement of values stressing family obligation with values stressing personal autonomy.
I recently interviewed Ron Lesthaeghe, an eminent demographer and professor emeritus at the Free University of Brussels, who was in Washington last month for meetings at the National Academy of Sciences.
Lesthaeghe describes the current transition as follows: “Marriage gives way to cohabitation. In the 1960s, it’s income and education, it’s an educated elite that opens the door. But you can see that once the phenomenon is legitimized, it becomes an open story for everybody who thinks it’s advantageous.”
The problems of majority black Baltimore are extreme, but many of the trends found there are as extreme or more so in majority white Muskogee.
The Baltimore poverty rate is 23.8 percent, 8.4 points above the national rate, but below Muskogee’s 27.7 percent. The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385, $11,661 below the $53,046 national level, but $7,712 above Muskogee’s $33,664.
If conservatives place responsibility on liberal Democrats, feminism and the abandonment of traditional family values for Baltimore’s decay, what role did the 249 churches in and around Muskogee play in that city’s troubles?
The fact is that the poor and working classes of both races were not well equipped to adjust to changes in behavior driven by the sexual revolution and the second demographic transition – a collection of forces that are inexorably changing the family, marriage patterns and child rearing worldwide
Those who seek to exploit the transformation of reproductive norms for short-term political gain are tearing at the social fabric. The right willfully ignores the benefits, and the left willfully ignores the costs, of what is, for better or worse, a world of radically diminished moral constraint. It may be asking too much of the political process to resolve conflicts like these.