The more you look at the actual sociological data (rather than the dominant ideological clap-trap) the more it seems that social conservatism is the essential glue needed for that strong, stable society we crave for. Maybe Harinam & Henderson are selective in their data for this article but it makes a compelling case.
Go to church.
But why do some areas exhibit higher rates of upward mobility than others? For Carney, social capital is the key. Places with more civic activity, regardless of income, have more upward mobility. In fact, Chetty, calculating an area’s “social capital” score, found a strong correlation between civic activity and upward mobility, with religiosity (e.g. going to church) leading the way. Both white working-class and black inner-city neighbourhoods lack the civic institutions that allow for upward mobility. Furthermore, research suggests that a 15% increase in the proportion of people who think others are trustworthy raises income per person by 1%.Take personal responsibility and follow the 'success sequence'- "graduate from high school, work full-time, and not have children outside of marriage"
According to Haskins and Sawhill, individuals in families that adhered to the success sequence had a 98 percent chance of escaping poverty. By contrast, 76 percent of those that did not adhere to any of these norms were poor. In a 2003 analysis of census data, the authors demonstrated that had the poor followed the success sequence, the U.S. poverty rate would have fallen by more than 70 percent.Support the family and marriage
Whereas 8 percent of children born to married parents end up in poverty as adults, 27 percent of children born to unmarried parents live as impoverished adults. According to a study by social scientists Robert Lerman, Joseph Price, and Brad Wilcox, “Youths who grow up with both biological parents earn more income, work more hours each week, and are more likely to be married themselves as adults, compared to children raised in single-parent families.”The authors report that not only does controlling for family make-up pretty much eliminate differences between races but that the single best thing to reduce social pathologies like depression, alcoholism, suicide, IV drug use, and domestic violence is to cut the rates of child abuse. And child abuse is dramatically higher where children are born outside marriage.
It's one article and I'm sure there's plenty to question but it matches the work on child and young people of Robert Putnam as well as robust evidence on how social stability benefits the less well off far more than it does us well-connected middle-class folk. What is very clear, however, is that the collapse in traditional families sits right at the heart of the problems we see in inner-city communities. And it's no surprise that, for these communities, the people who look to escape a world of poverty, violence and drugs turn to the stability of the church as pretty much the sole wholesome thing on offer.
I am mixed on the matter of social conservatism given its association with anti-gay messages and a traditional, essentially subservient role for women. But the argument here is compelling - finishing school, getting a job and keeping a job, getting married and staying married is still the best route out of poverty. Our social policies should, therefore, focus on supporting these outcomes - well-funded schools with good discipline and a focus on outcomes, real support for people in work aimed at keeping them in work and a substantive and genuine commitment to reward marriage.