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Boys Hardest Hit


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Now and then truth emerges in surprising places, such as the pages of the New York Times and the work of Third Way, a goo-goo "moderate" Beltway think tank heretofore best known for its pioneering efforts in the crucially important sphere of seating arrangements.


Today's Times reports on a new Third Way study that is highly important--no sarcasm here--and that picks up on some of this column's frequent themes. Here's the abstract:


A new gender gap has emerged--one where girls and young women outperform boys and young men in both education and key aspects of the workforce. This gap could be as much about social family structure as it is about economic forces like the demise of labor unions, globalization, and rapid changes in technology. Authors David Autor and Melanie Wasserman make the case that the decline in male achievement is almost exclusively reserved for males born into single-parent households; while females in single-parent households do OK, boys seem to suffer.


Boys in female-headed households "appear to fare particularly poorly on numerous social and educational outcomes," the authors note. "A vicious cycle [sic] may ensue, with the poor economic prospects of less-educated males creating differentially large disadvantages for their sons, thus potentially reinforcing the development of the gender gap in the next generation." Boys, it seems, suffer more than girls do from the absence of a father.


Well, maybe. We have a quibble with the conclusion that "females in single-parent households do OK." That may be true by the measure of individual economic and educational outcomes, but part of the vicious circle involves these girls' growing up and bearing children out of wedlock (or for other reasons raising them in broken homes). If that is "OK," our standards have already slipped too low.





Paging Christina Hoff Sommers

Please answer your phone.
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