Divisions of Decline: Family Structure and Social Capital

by Ryan Streeter on July 27, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

While I don’t usually play around in the national intelligence community (some would say I don’t play around in any intelligence community…), I have a post up today at the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 web site. A variety of posts on the site are looking at issues related to the larger question of whether America is in decline.

I thank Will Inboden of the LBJ School at the University of Texas-Austin for inviting the post. This gives you a sense of the theme:

The most important bifurcation related to the questions of American decline…is this: children whose parents are married and educated vs. children whose parents aren’t…

Over the next 30 to 50 years the married-educated group will be chiefly responsible for most of America’s productivity, earnings, and as a result, revenues to the Treasury. Over the same period, the unmarried-uneducated group will be a drag on productivity and a net consumer of public services. Already, for the first time ever, the CBO reports that America’s middle income quintile consumes more in government benefits than it pays in taxes, a radical shift from just 30 years ago. This will worsen quickly in the coming decades. There are, of course, children whose parents are educated but unmarried or married but not educated, and they fall socioeconomically on all indicators somewhere between the two primary groups. But keeping our focus on the two primary groups is most important right now, as their dynamics will define the growing divide in America.

You can read the whole thing here.