For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

— Matthew 26:11 (KJV)

In last week’s set of com­ments, a reg­u­lar com­menter observed:

Since blacks mar­ried them­selves to the Demo­c­ra­tic Party 50 years ago, the black fam­ily has been in steady decline.

He was asked:

Are you sug­gest­ing a causal rela­tion­ship here?

The answer:

Yes I am. Since Lyn­don John­son and the Great Soci­ety started giv­ing money to black moth­ers who had babies out of wed­lock, there became a dis­in­cen­tive for black men to marry black women and have chil­dren in wed­lock. We then started mov­ing blacks into the ghet­tos and taught them to become depen­dent on gov­ern­ment. Then if any Repub­li­can ever sug­gests cut­ting back on wel­fare, there’s a back­lash from those receiv­ing gov­ern­ment assis­tance and Repub­li­cans are accused of being self­ish and not car­ing about peo­ple and being racists.

[Note: I cor­rected mis­word­ings and mis­spellings, and sim­pli­fied the above exchange.]

Image via xkcd​.com

So what is the evi­dence for a causal rela­tion­ship between gov­ern­ment assis­tance and poverty, chil­dren born out of wed­lock and mul­ti­ple chil­dren born to father­less families?

Let’s stip­u­late that the cor­re­la­tion exists. I’m not sure I accept the cor­re­la­tion out­lined above, but it will become impos­si­ble to dis­cuss if we don’t start some­where. Remem­ber that “[c]orrelation does not imply cau­sa­tion, but it does wag­gle its eye­brows sug­ges­tively and ges­ture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’.” (more…)