The Changing Face of Social Breakdown: How the Pandemic has Made us Like "We Were" BUT More So!


Video from Acton Institute


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In this episode, Eric Kohn sits down with Yuval Levin, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and editor-in-chief of National Affairs, to discuss his new article featured in The Dispatch, "The Changing Face of Social Breakdown." Levin notices a strange cultural trend. Although things may look great from a mere statistical perspective, something more ominous is going on in the background. Levin writes: “This mix of seemingly good and bad news is no paradox. The good news is often just one consequence of the bad. There are fewer divorces because there are fewer marriages. … There are fewer abortions because there are fewer pregnancies. …  There are fewer out-of-wedlock births because there are fewer births in general. … Fewer teenagers are dying in car accidents because fewer teenagers are getting driver’s licenses. There is less social disorder, we might say, because there is less social life. We are doing less of everything together, so that what we do is a little more tidy and controlled.”


"Last month, two of my colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute (Brad Wilcox and Lyman Stone), along with co-authors from the Wheatley Foundation and the Institute for Family Studies, published an important new paper on the state of family formation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a fascinating study, well worth your while, which reviews new data about American attitudes toward marriage and child-bearing and puts them in some historical context.

What struck the authors most about the trends they discerned was their bifurcation along economic, cultural, and political lines. Wealthier Americans are more interested in marriage and kids than those with lower incomes. And, maybe less surprisingly, religious Americans and those inclined to vote Republican are also more interested in forming traditional families than those who are secular and on the left. These aren’t new trends, but the pandemic looks to be reinforcing them, for reasons the authors discuss.

But I was most struck by something else about the portrait they paint. The report embodies a significant change in how we think about the basic character of social breakdown in America, and what we take to be the obstacles to human flourishing in our time. This different understanding isn’t quite new either, but it is often left implicit, so its full significance has been slow to hit us...." from the article: The Changing Face of Social Breakdown


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