Recently, a well-known labor economist has argued that the increasing number of single parents is largely to blame for diminishing earnings of male workers, contrary to those of female workers whose earnings have shown a growing trend in the recent past.
According to Professor David H. Autor, who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, childhood partly plays a role in the differences observed between men and women. Surprising data collected in 2010 found that 63 percent of children live with both parents, a significant drop, taking into account that it was 82 percent in 1970. Most children in single-parent households are being brought up by their mothers.
Economic troubles faced by the male population are seen as the cause-and-effect of diminishing two-parent households. Women typically are not as attracted to less successful men and often opt to raise their own children, producing sons who are likely to experience similar economic hardships and hence, be less attractive to their generation of women.
Professor Autor thinks that this may facilitate a vicious cycle that will define the gender gap in the next generation. Male numbers in the workplace have significantly dropped and this is a worrisome trend of national importance.
Women are now going to college in higher numbers than men and are therefore better positioned to deal with the demands and shortcomings of the current labor market—technology advancement, foreign competition, and declining unions.
Many economists believe that the male population has taken a beating from economic changes such as the declining manufacturing sector. However, keen analysis suggests that such reasons only account for small portion of the declining wage gap. Arguments have cropped up about the real causes of the situation, with some conservatives claiming that a female is more adaptable, and the male less industrious—views that are disputed by Professor Autor.
Citing the widening income inequality gap, Professor Autor points out that children raised in poor backgrounds are likely to end up as parents of poor children. Boys raised by their mothers are particularly disadvantaged with many having slim chances of attending college. Studies show that they spent less time with their mothers compared to girls.
While conservatives view the improvement of parental relationships as key to addressing the issue, liberals think that an improvement in economic opportunities will solve the problem.