In this video, The New York Times notes that "as a single mother of three, Jessica Schairer falls in the middle of a sharp debate about how economic inequality is increasingly linked to changes in family structure" (see accompanying article and infographic). Through Jessica's story as a working class mother, it illustrates how family structure can exacerbate already existing class inequalities. Jessica explains her stress trying to raise her children as a single parent, including the difficulties of getting home and needing to meet the needs of children and her inability to pay for all the activities her children would like to do. This is contrasted with her married supervisor at work, who is able to rely on a partner when going home from work. The narrator notes that like Jessica's supervisor, college-educated people are more likely to marry and that their combined resources help provide an additional advantage in raising their income, which provides additional advantages conferred to their children. The narrator also notes that "many children of single parents flourish, but studies have shown that on average, children raised by single parents are more likely to fall into poverty, do poorly in school, or become teenage parents." The accompanying article provides many additional statistics. For example, it notes that "estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality." Viewers can be encouraged to consider how class and family structure intersect to shape intergenerational economic inequality, and how low-income workers face more job-related difficulties in meeting family needs as compared to salaried professional workers.
Image by Stephen Crowley/New York Times