Cognitive skills are important, but so are harder-to-measure strengths that fall under the heading of what is sometimes called character.
Children in continuously married two-parent families did better than children with single parents.
In a 2011 paper, “The American Family in Black and White,” Heckman argues that a key factor in determining a child’s future prospects is whether he or she grows up in a one- or two-parent family, a gap that has become apparent “Between the environments of children of more educated women and the environments of children of less educated women.”
Fewer than 10 percent of women with college degrees in 2011 bore children outside of marriage, Heckman writes.
Children of such marriages appear to be at a major advantage compared to children from other unions.
Talk less to their children and are less likely to read to them daily.
Disadvantaged mothers encourage their children less and tend to adopt harsher parenting styles.
Disadvantaged parents tend to be less engaged with their children’s school work.
There are good reasons to think that children are key to the socioeconomic differences in marriage behavior.
For college graduates, they argue, “Marriage has become the commitment device that supports intensive joint investments in children,” a cooperative “Joint project of raising economically successful children.”
Also published on Medium.