Christina Cross, "Blood Lies: Why the Two-Parent Family is No Cure-All for Racial Inequality"

Blumer Room - 402 Social Sciences Building

African Americans have the highest rates of single parenthood in the U.S., and this divergence from

the two-parent family is routinely indicted as a fundamental cause of their disadvantaged position in

society. One need only take a cursory glance at recent academic studies, news articles, policy briefs,

or social media posts to witness the single-parent family being implicated as the source of a wide

array of problems disproportionately affecting African American families. Implicit in this perspective

on black disadvantage is the assumption that the benefits of living in a two-parent are equally

available to all and will generate equality of opportunity for the next generation. However, a narrow

focus on single parenthood cannot tell us the counterfactual: When African American children grow

up in the socially promoted two-parent family, how do they fare? How do their outcomes compare

relative to their white peers raised in this same family structure? Put differently, is the two-parent

family the Great Equalizer most Americans imagine it to be? If not, why do opportunity gaps

between the children of Black and white couples persist? And how should we view the role of family

structure in contributing to racial inequality? Drawing on data from three nationally representative

surveys, I address these questions and much more.