Family and Nation (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
If the United States is a nation of families—as both conservatives and liberals seem wont to say—then one has a right to inquire into the health of these families. Statistics are a vital way of beginning the examination, and the relevant statistics are truly alarming. Half of today’s marriages are likely to end in divorce; currently, there are 1.2 million divorces per year. When the divorcing wife keeps the children, she becomes a good candidate for poverty. Eighty-five percent of divorced women are not awarded any alimony. When alimony is awarded, the average amount is around three hundred dollars a month for an average of two years. When child support is ordered by the court, it averages about one hundred dollars per month per child. Fifty percent of divorced fathers do not pay the full amount they owe and 24 percent pay nothing. Not surprisingly then, after a divorce, the typical former wife is placed at great economic risk. Currently, more than three million divorced and separated women, along with nearly 4.5 million of their children, live in poverty.
In 1979, the United States Bureau of the Census made a number of ominous projections about American households in the next decades. It forecast that by the end of the century, some three-quarters of American families will be of the traditional mother-father-children sort. This appears comforting until one recalls that in 1960 roughly 90 percent were of this description. Further, Moynihan states...
(The entire section is 2417 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
America. CLIV, March 22, 1986, p. 230.
Booklist. LXXXII, February 15, 1986, p. 838.
Fortune. CXIII, April 14, 1986, p. 131.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, January 15, 1986, p. 117.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. March 23, 1986, p. 7.
National Review. XXXVIII, March 14, 1986, p. 49.
The New Republic. CXCIV, March 17, 1986, p. 30.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, March 2, 1986, p. 9.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIX, January 3, 1986, p. 45.
Washington Post Book World. XVI, February 2, 1986, p. 3.
(The entire section is 56 words.)