For white working-class women, it makes sense to stay single mothers.Lily and Carl are fictional. The authors say that this is an "unfair marriage market" and suggest policies such as "ongoing support for women’s autonomy." That means more support for single women to get pregnant, and to deny paternity to the child.
The following is based on Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family, out in May 2014 from Oxford University Press.
Lily had grown up in a rural town, more than an hour from Kansas City, Mo. She was four months pregnant and not feeling well, and she was in tears. She was also not married, but that’s not what was upsetting her. The car that she needed to get to her two jobs in the city had broken down, and she had no other way to get to work. We asked whether her boyfriend, Carl, could help her. Lily frowned. She had recently broken up with Carl, she explained, because “I can support myself. I always have. I can support myself and our kid. I just can’t support myself, the kid, and him.” ...
When Lily looks around at the available men, they don’t offer what she is looking for. ... Blue-collar men like Carl have lost ground while more highly educated men have gained. ... By not marrying, Lily can leave the relationship on her own terms — with her savings intact and no responsibility for Carl’s debts.
Here is the root cause:
Since the ’80s, the gender gap in wages has ... shrunk in the middle. As a result, Lily finds that she can say no to marriage and raise a child on her own.So I guess the increased pay for women, relative to men, has made it harder for them to find husbands that they are happy with.
The basic facts about marriage trends can be found elsewhere, such as Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray.