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Poverty and the decline of the two-parent household [Letter]

Dan Rodricks wrote movingly of a Johns Hopkins study of poverty that found if you are born poor in Baltimore, the chances are you will remain poor ("A Hopkins sociologist busts an American myth," June 17).

Yet the Hopkins study apparently says nothing about the rise of single-parent families and their statistical correlation to poverty and inequality.

According to numerous studies, the two-parent family has declined rapidly in recent decades. In 1960, more than 76 percent of African-Americans and nearly 97 percent of whites were born to married couples. Today the percentage is 30 percent for blacks and 70 percent for whites.

Coupled with high rates of divorce, these statistics have had a devastating effect upon children. Unfortunately, news media avoid any message about the influence of family structure on poverty.

This is not a politically correct topic, as the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan found out in 1965 when he was sharply criticized for warning of the long-term risk that single-parent families posed for black communities.

There is no quick or easy solution for those who live in poverty. Indeed, we may not be the makers of our own fortune, particularly when we contribute to our own misfortune.

I hope that Mr. Rodricks will revisit the subject of poverty and encourage the researchers at Hopkins to study the impact of family breakups on poverty rates. Children, particularly those who are born into poverty in minority communities, deserve better remedial ideas.

Lowell E. Abramson

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