If you are under age 30 and don’t come from a wealthy background, I want to let you in on the secret sauce to escaping poverty. It rests on you making just two important life decisions—pursuing a higher education and getting married. A higher education may seem obvious, but it may be a surprise to those millennials who are playing hipster bingo with relationships or choosing to either never marry or to build families outside of marriage. In fact, it could be the single biggest life mistake you make if you aspire to do better than your parents.
Statistically, marriage rates are more closely linked to socio-economic status than ever before. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data, the education gap in marital status has continued to widen. And this is increasingly more so for those on the low economic ladder. “In 2015, among adults ages 25 and older, 65 percent with a four-year college degree were married, compared with 55 percent of those with some college education and 50 percent among those with no education beyond high school. Twenty-five years earlier, the marriage rate was above 60 percent for each of these groups.” So what happened?
Although marriage rates peaked in 1960, with 72 percent of adults 18 and older being married, the data shows that those in the higher income brackets did one thing that those in the bottom economic block today don’t do. They got married and they stayed married. The economic elite in America may be well inked and vote and lean liberal, but their lifestyle and goals remain very conservative. More than 60 percent of those with a four-year degree are married, while less than 50 percent of those with a high school education are married.
As families began to disintegrate in the 1970s and 1980s, the baby boomers, who had been raised for the most part in pre-1965 conservative households and who so infamously rebelled against their parents traditional values, took a long look at where their hedonism was going and withdrew from the musical chairs of the sexual liberation culture. Social scientist Charles Murray documents this phenomena in his well researched book, Coming Apart, which I recommend anyone who aspires to escape poverty get and read.
Today, the rates of marriage for blacks and other minorities are slightly lower today than those with whites with just a high school diploma, none of which bodes well for any of these groups who hope to escape poverty. The statistics are also clear that children raised in single-parent households are more likely than any other group to live in poverty. Clearly, having children outside of marriage simply doesn’t work if you want to escape poverty—regardless of your race.
What the Left gets so wrong about the divide in America is that it isn’t race that divides us, it’s economic and social collateral. In other words, it isn’t white privilege, it’s economic and social privilege. Getting a higher education is extremely difficult to obtain for poor and low-income individuals, who often either don’t come from two-parent households that value higher education or who can help them navigate the complex world of student loans, budgeting, books, housing, transportation, or even living expenses.
For those that overcome these obstacles and make it to campus, they find themselves in an alien world in which they do not have the same skill set as their peers who come from higher income households. They went to poor schools and they quickly realize that there are large gaps in their education and general knowledge of the world. They have often never traveled outside of their own community and even something as simple as what privileged individuals eat is alien to the poor student.
Those individuals who grow up inside elite bubbles where both parents are highly educated and gainfully employed in high-paying careers, don’t struggle with these same types of economic and class issues. They more than likely have always attended excellent schools and developed other skills, such as learning a second language, playing musical instruments or engaging in sports. They likely traveled with their parents and experienced cultures outside of the United States.
Their parents are well connected and they often get valuable unpaid internships beginning in high school that help to pave the way to a lucrative career path after graduation and teach them the basics of simple office etiquette. They pledge to college groups with others who are like themselves and form long-lasting bonds that go far beyond their college days, developing a network of important career connections that serve them throughout their lucrative working years.
This gap in education and class and the difficulty in navigating the world of privilege is well documented in The New York Times best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy, the true account of white author J.D. Vance, who chronicles his rise to the hallowed halls of Yale from his deep roots of Appalachia poverty and the unseen obstacles of class he had to overcome.
Though the cost and value of higher education today is under attack, and rightfully so, it still paves the way to opening the door to higher-paying careers. And despite Trump’s gains in manufacturing and job creation, the strong marketplace of the future will still demand skilled workers with a high reasoning capacity and overall intelligence.
The institute of marriage has been under attack for decades by the elite Left, but they shamelessly do not practice the sexual hedonism culture that they preach to the poor masses—black, white and Hispanic—through popular culture, including music, videos and movies. For those that do, their wealth and privilege provides a buffer for them to bounce back from the economic damage of any poor choices they may make.
You don’t have that privilege, and that is okay, because now you know what to do. Read the books mentioned here. Knowing the facts and being prepared for the unknown world of the educated elite and what you will face in your personal quest to escape poverty will help you in those first few years of college life. And on your way up, do not diddle outside of marriage but do be looking for a lifelong mate that shares your values. Reign well.