Kathy Gyngell is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies
A few weeks ago an American commentator, Philip Cohen, said it was about time that public policy caught up with the reality that fewer and fewer children are being raised in homes with two parents. Since the decline of marriage was universal, he said, and, in America, would hit zero on current trends in 2042, we should learn to live without it.
What we must do instead, he said, is to reduce the disadvantages to those who are not married – or whose parents are not married.
We know what that means, this side of the Atlantic. It means the state becoming the great provider and taking over the family’s role and responsibilities. It means a bottomless pit of cash benefits and tax transfers in favour of maternal employment, childcare support and childcare services, to square a circle that can never be squared.
But if Mr Cohen came over here he would see that ‘disadvantage reduction’ policies such as these never catch up with (or make good) marriage decline because they continue to drive it. So should he want to bring his USA 2042 projection forward, he need look no further than to copy us.