Everyone seems to have accepted @RichardvReeves’ explanation of racial gaps in education: boys are adversely affected by paternal absence, their prefrontal contex doesn’t mature, they become delinquent.

Are we 💯 % sure?

I am not.
Bertrand & Pen show that sons of single mothers are more likely to be suspended in grade 8.

I accept this effect holds.

But how big is it?

5% of kids with both parents get suspended vs 8% of kids with a single mother.

That difference is surprisingly small!
There is a gender gap

But why is the presumption that boys are struggling rather than black girls are very motivated?

And black girls have every reason to be highly motivated.

Marriage rates are falling.

Many black mothers are raising kids alone

They depend on themselves
As @BetseyStevenson & @LibertadGonLu have shown in the USA & Ireland, when divorce rates go up, women become more committed to the labour force.

They cease to see marriage as reliable insurance

So invest more in their own independent careers.
Why does no one accept that the same thing could be happening here?

Many black girls grow up with single mothers, providing for everything alone, with little support.

That doubtless shapes their expectations of men in general.

They learn to be strong & independent.
The gender gap could be a result of men’s inabilities or women’s heightened drive.

I don’t know.

But I’m surprised black women haven’t been more critical of the narrative that it’s all about men struggling, whereas it could equally be a story of exceptional female drive.
Here’s a map showing the share of black mothers who are single

Why not consider the possibility that their daughters & others in their neighbourhoods have extremely low expectations of men’s support?

And desperately want to maximise their incomes & take care of their kids?
I’ve interviewed daughters of single mothers all over the world, snd that’s one thing they emphasise: self-reliance.

They may love the idea of men taking care of them but they’re not naive.

They’ve seen first hand that men can be disappointing & unreliable let-downs.
It’s black mothers who (very often) shoulder financial responsibility for the children

Latin America shows a parallel trend

Rates of marriage have plummeted,

Unions are now weak and unable. Without ties of marriage, men are more likely to leave.

Female education exceeds men’s

Rates of female labour market participation are soaring.

Is this not female drive?
The rise of cohabitation is unique to societies that were / are Christian.

Islam and Hindu cultures generally proscribe cohabitation.

Women rarely have children outside wedlock.

So marriage provides more reliable security.

And we don’t see this big rise in FLFP.
My argument is that men’s expectations of responsibility affect their drive in education and employment.

Binder & Bound (2019) in JEP show that the declining labour market participation of less than college educated men is largely among those who were already *unmarried*.
Fathers work longer hours than non-fathers.

This holds controlling for other variables.

We can all accept this likely reflects heightened responsibility.

Parental responsibilities affect earnings, for both men and women.
Here’s my earlier thread on @RichardvReeves’s book, icymi

One more thing..

There is a lot of subnational variation in rates of black marriage.

In some states, over 60% of black mothers are single.
In others, it’s below 30%.

No one has explained the causes of this heterogeneity

Map of black mothers who are single by @AlthoffLukas 👇
(And thank you to JMC @AlthoffLukas who kindly makes these brilliant maps and graphs, drawing on his valuable database

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Really good thread criticizing my framing of male floundering & pointing instead to big < in female (esp Black) motivation