A Prospective Analysis of Family Fragmentation: Baby Mama Drama Meets Jane Austen

29 BYU J. of Public Law 101 (2015)

25 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2015

See all articles by Lynne Marie Kohm

Lynne Marie Kohm

Regent University - School of Law

Date Written: April 17, 2015


“Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor – which is one very strong argument in favor of Matrimony...” Nineteenth century novelist Jane Austen, a single woman all her life in a socio-legal culture that afforded women no legal or economic rights, understood the consequences of a lack of income and wealth, and wrote about it from a perspective that entertained millions while teaching readers about old English laws of primogeniture and the consequences to single women. While never a mother, Austen’s insight and advice are salient today in a prospective analysis of broken or never-formed families, commonly described as family fragmentation.

Family fragmentation has significant societal effects on family law. Never-formed families are generally characterized by non-marital childbearing, and are often comprised of impoverished single mothers with young children. Accompanied by a drop in marriage rates in the United States, unmarried child bearing is the essence of a never-formed family, and may be contributing to a very noticeable gap in marriage and income inequality. Because the millennial generation will have the lowest rates of marriage by age 40 than any previous generation, and marriage tends to increase wealth and income, the economic welfare of current and future children raised without a married mother and father, and their future families, may be in jeopardy. There is increasing evidence that family form is one causal factor in these outcomes, but it is also true that poverty and other factors go a long way in explaining the differential. A brief exploration of the effects of never-formed families on American society may prove helpful for the future of American families and family law. Here, Baby Mama Drama will meet Jane Austen, a woman who keenly understood the plight of single women.

This article considers the scope, direction and pace of changes in families and family law with a focus on never-formed families to discuss what effects those changes may produce in America and in American law in the future. Part I considers the law and economics of never-formed families as manifested in single motherhood. From 1985 to 2015, child birth statistics and parental obligations are examined in the context of societal economics. In the framework of single motherhood as characterizing the lion’s share of never-formed families the article then examines fatherlessness and its effect on children and society at large. It also considers how the notion of human capital is either advanced or subjugated for individuals in never-formed families. Part II then considers marriage law trends, the marriage market and income inequality in the context of family fragmentation and never-formed families. Part III offers an attempt to look down the road ahead for the future of the family in light of the never-formed family trend, from 2015 to 2045. This section examines marriage markets and suggests policy changes to strengthen families for the next generation.

Keywords: Family, marriage, jane austen, baby mama drama, income inequality

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K13, K19, K39, A10, A13, A14

Suggested Citation

Kohm, Lynne Marie, A Prospective Analysis of Family Fragmentation: Baby Mama Drama Meets Jane Austen (April 17, 2015). 29 BYU J. of Public Law 101 (2015), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2551304

Lynne Marie Kohm (Contact Author)

Regent University - School of Law ( email )

1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.regent.edu/kohm

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