by Craig J. Cantoni
April 27, 2007
Arizonans are barraged with news stories
about the state ranking near the bottom in graduation rates, test scores, the
number of people without medical insurance, and other social ills. Sounding
like a platform of the Democratic Party, the stories typically say that the
social ills can only be solved with higher taxes and more redistribution.
Strangely, Arizonans hear very little
about a leading cause of the low rankings--namely, that the state ranks near
the top in out-of-wedlock births. It also ranks near the top in the
racial/ethnic groups that have a high illegitimacy rate: Hispanics and Native
A cynic might say that political
correctness and a fear of hurting people’s feelings explain the dearth of
information about the connection between out-of-wedlock births and social
ills. He might even imagine that if there were an outbreak of malaria, the
media would say nothing about the root cause of the disease, for fear of
hurting the feelings of mosquitoes.
Well, a new study by the Center for
Immigration Studies will hurt a lot
of feelings. Its findings match the findings of earlier studies and analyses,
including those authored by me. The study can be found at:
County (metro Phoenix) ranks third out of 50 counties
across the nation in the percent of out-of-wedlock births in the immigrant
population. Nearly one out of every two births to immigrants is out of wedlock
in Maricopa County. State-wide statistics are just
as sobering, with Arizona
ranking near the top in the illegitimacy rate of immigrants.
- Nationally, Hispanic immigrants lead
all other races in illegitimacy, with 42% of children of Hispanic immigrants
being born out of wedlock, versus, 32% for the children of black immigrants and
11% for the children of Asian immigrants.
- Surprisingly, illegitimacy increases
over the generations. The rate for native Hispanics is 50%, or eight
percentage points higher than the rate for Hispanic immigrants.
is hit particularly hard by the foregoing statistics, because Hispanics make up
about 29% of the state’s population, or twice the percent for the nation as a
whole. (Native Americans, who also have an above-average illegitimacy rate,
make up about 5% of the state’s population, or five times the percent for the
nation as a whole.)
- Between 1980 and 2003, the national
illegitimacy rate of all races, immigrant or native, has more than doubled.
Similar trends have been seen in the
number of single-parent families, which, like the related problem of
out-of-wedlock births, are a leading cause of school dropouts, poverty, and
other social ills.
Reducing out-of-wedlock births is a
daunting task, of course, because unmarried women have children for a variety
of complex reasons, including cultural forces, psychological needs, parental
example, and enablers in the media, academia, business, and government. But
the first step in solving any problem is to admit that it exists and not be
afraid to talk about it.
The cruel fact is that the problem of
out-of-wedlock-births (and the related problem of single-parent families) is
not talked about in polite company and the local and national media as much as
other problems. For example, there has been much more coverage about the dangers
of smoking, of not wearing a seatbelt, and of eating fatty food than there has
been about the “dangers” of out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families.
At the risk of sounding simplistic, all of
these dangers have one thing in common: They are all the result of behaviors
that the individual can change. If that were not true, then the government,
media, academia, businesses, nonprofit groups, and other members of the
establishment wouldn’t be funding public service messages to encourage people to
change their behavior and make the right choices about tobacco, seatbelts, and
Maybe if similar coverage were given to
out-of-wedlock births, Arizona
would stop ranking near the bottom in social ills, because it would no longer
rank near the top in births to unmarried women.
An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can
be reached at email@example.com.