Thanks. Single motherhood is indeed a strong correlate of poverty. That correlation is stronger for blacks, Latinos & Native Americans, and weaker for Asians and whites. The variability of that correlation across ethnic groups stems not just from culture, but also from resources and circumstances: the average unwed white or Asian mother’s family has more income and wealth to assist her than is available to the average black, Latino or American Indian girl. (While reparations are a political nonstarter, the Coates article effectively summarizes the suffocating post-slavery barriers to black economic advancement. In much the same way, the deck has been stacked against Native Americans.)

Culture is less a matter of present conscious choice than a set of learned behaviors that made some kind of sense in the past, but may or may prove useful in light of present resources and circumstances.

Psychologically, poverty mires people in short-term thinking and limits their capacity to think long-term and manage their affairs as effectively as more fortunate folks. For this reason, effective interventions must include material aid (to relieve the immediate effects of poverty), together with education and job opportunities, plus what you might call cultural assistance: training in personal finance, family planning, effective child rearing, etc.

History, politics, education, music, culture. Award-winning high school teacher, former principal. College instructor. Seahawks Diehard. Twitter: @brian_mrbmkz

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