One piece of inherited wisdom is the value of the two-parent family. It’s not fashionable to talk about this. How people raise their children is a matter of preference. But it is not really up for debate that the two-parent home is, on average, better for children.
First, two parents can provide more resources to children, including emotional support, encouragement and help with homework. One conscientious parent, no matter how heroic, cannot do the work of two. Second, single-parent households have a lower standard of living, which is associated with lower school grades and test scores.
Here is an example of the success of intact families from one of my psychology classes. The professor asked students to anonymously respond to a question about parental background. Out of 25 students, only one other student besides me did not grow up in a traditional two-parent family. It’s no accident that most of my peers at Yale come from intact families.
Outcomes are worse for foster children. Ten percent of foster children enroll in college, and only 3 percent graduate. To my knowledge, among more than 5,000 undergraduates at Yale in the current school year, the number of former foster children is under 10.