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Raise families, not the minimum wage

Maggie Barcellano sits with her daughter, Zoe, 3, at Barcellano's father's house in Austin, Texas on Jan. 25. Barcellano, who lives with her father, enrolled in the food stamps program to help save up for paramedic training while she works as a home health aide and raises her daughter.(AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)

Which is better for social mobility and income equality: earning $15 per hour at some unskilled job, or raising kids in two-parent households in economically diverse neighborhoods?

A recent Harvard study found that family structure is the No. 1 indicator of economic mobility. Quite simply, kids who grow up in two-parent households end up better off later in life.

David Boze welcomed American Enterprise Institute scholar Bradford Wilcox to talk about the study, and why the left is misguided in its push to jack up the minimum wage.

“In areas where there are more single parents, kids are less likely to rise up the economic ladder,” Wilcox told Boze.

Other important factors that predict mobility, Wilcox said, are racial and economic segregation, school quality, and access to social capital – that is, access to institutions like churches, and activities like team sports and volunteer groups.

“One of the other factors cited here is racial and economic segregation and how if you live in a [homogeneous] community where everyone is of the same race, then it’s going to be more difficult to be upwardly mobile – why would that be?” Boze asked.

“When it comes to that kind of segregation, particularly concentrating lots of poor families together who don’t necessarily have a lot of resources, who probably have a higher number of single families, are more stressed out – they’re not able to give the kind of support, direction, and modeling that’s needed for kids to thrive,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox, who is also the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, authored an article at New Scientist exploring the full Harvard study.

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