a famous 1965 report written at the request of President Lyndon Johnson and
titled “The Negro Family: The Case for Action,” the social scientist (and later Democratic Senator) Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted that
the deterioration of the black family, already approaching crisis
proportions, would result in skyrocketing crime rates if not addressed. In an America magazine article expanding on his report, Moynihan
“From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century
Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is
one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows
large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated
by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority,
never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the
future—that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence,
unrest, disorder … are not only to be expected, they are very near
This vision of the social pathologies of a rising new “underclass”
of fatherless young people was prescient. By 1976, illegitimacy rates had
risen to nearly 10%
for whites (as opposed to about 3% in 1960) and 50.3% for blacks (well more
than double what the rate had been 16 years earlier). In 1987, for the first time in the history of any American racial or
ethnic group, the birth rate for unmarried black women surpassed that
for married black women. Current illegitimacy rates in the U.S. are 29%
for whites and 73% for African Americans.
consequences of these trends have been catastrophic for children. As Moynihan predicted, youngsters raised by single parents are significantly more likely to behave
aggressively and violently, to engage in criminal activity, and to serve jail time before age 30. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 60% of rapists, 72%
of adolescent murderers, and 70% of long-term prison inmates are men
who grew up in fatherless homes.
As Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector reports, a major 1988 study of 11,000 individuals confirmed that “the percentage of single-parent households with children between the ages of 12 and 20 is significantly associated with rates of violent crime and burglary.” Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Congressional Budget Office director June O’Neill likewise found that young black men raised in one-parent homes are twice as likely to commit crimes when compared to black men raised by intact families—even after controlling for a wide range of variables such as family income, urban residence, neighborhood environment, and parents’ education. O’Neill further reports that if young males raised by one parent reside in a neighborhood with many other single-parent families, they are fully three times likelier to engage in criminal activity than are their peers with two parents.
Since the black illegitimacy rate is so high, the aforementioned pathologies plague blacks more than they affect any other demographic. “Even if white people were to become morally rejuvenated tomorrow,” writes George Mason University Professor Walter E. Williams, himself an African American, “it would do nothing for the problems plaguing a large segment of the black community. Illegitimacy, family breakdown, crime, and fraudulent education are devastating problems, but they are not civil-rights problems.”
and Abigail Thernstrom, America
in Black and White
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), p. 240.
 Douglas Smith and G. Roger Jajoura, "Social Structure and Criminal Victimization," Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency (February 1988), pp.27-52. Cited in Robert Rector, “The Effects of Welfare Reform” (March 15, 2001).
 M. Anne Hill and June O'Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States: Measurement and Analysis of Determinants (New York: Baruch College, March 1990). Cited in Robert Rector, “The Effects of Welfare Reform,” The Heritage Foundation (March 15, 2001).
 Walter E. Williams, “Struggle for Civil Rights Is Over,” Conservative Chronicle (April 27, 1994), p. 26.