Karen Christopher

Recent Articles

Family-Friendly Europe

T he belief that single motherhood is the preeminent cause of poverty in America has become a bipartisan cliché. The welfare reform enacted in 1996 was designed, among other things, to discourage single parenthood and to promote marriage. Yet a look at the experiences and policies of other nations suggests a more complex story behind the causes of and cure for poverty. Evidence from Europe shows that the remedy is to increase the economic resources available to low-income families -- through better-paying jobs that relieve poverty directly and social supports that reconcile paid employment with reliable parenting. U.S. women, men, and children experience significantly higher levels of economic hardship than their counterparts in other affluent Western nations. For example, a common cross-national measure of poverty considers households poor when their family income falls below 50 percent of their country's median income. By this measure, according to the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS...