I grew up in rural Idaho as part of a homeschool family with four kids. A lot of our neighbors had big families and most also had stay-at-home moms. In this atmosphere, getting married and having kids were frequent and encouraged practices. More generally, we had an integrated community where singles, kids, parents, and grandparents inhabited a shared world and together laid the foundation for neighborly and familial health. Our “little platoons”—the circles of community that Edmund Burke pointed to as the “first principle” of public life and civic strength—were strong.
This kind of community is increasingly rare. Over the past several decades, America’s birthrate has dropped to concerning levels, and marriage rates have continued to decline. Senator Elizabeth Warren has argued that some of these changes stem from the “two-income trap,” a concept Helen Andrews described succinctly in a New York Times op-ed last week: “When mothers started entering paid employment in large numbers in the 1970s, it led to a bidding war over middle-class amenities that left everyone paying more for the privilege of being no better off than before. The result is a two-tiered system that isn’t working for anybody.”
The cries for egalitarianism during this period led rise to a career-centric economic system that has made childrearing more expensive and stressful for everybody. As a result, the argument goes, we’re all getting hurt in one way or another, either by not having the children we want to have, not pursuing the work-life balance we would like, or not achieving the familial stability that might add value to our lives.
It would appear that the economy we’ve ...1
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