…And if you dig into the footnotes in the Pew study linked by Frum’s column, which seems to show the percentage of fathers living with their children stabilizing in the 2000s, it looks like “father” is being defined to include any male adult whose live-in partner has a child. If, on the other hand, you focus on the percentage of children living with married two-parent families, then the 2000s suddenly look much worse.
Here I’d invite readers to examine figures 2, 3, 8, 12, 13 and 14 at the back of this year’s National Marriage Report, all of which tell a similar story: The marriage rate’s decline accelerated in the 2000s compared to the 1990s; so did the rise in the rate of out-of-wedlock births; and so did the rise in the rate of cohabitation, with and without children. (Interestingly, there’s also some evidence that the divorce rate stopped falling over the last decade, though this is complicated by problems with the data sources that I’m not competent to adjudicate.) Nor can these trends be chalked up to the shock of the Great Recession: Per the CDC, unmarried childbearing “resumed a steep climb since 2002,” and the cohabitation rate was also headed sharply upward before the financial crisis and its aftermath.