For Sharon, being on the dole raised basic issues of duty, honor, and shame. It had been hard to collect rent that she knew derived from disability checks, paid, in the end, by hardworking taxpayers like her. “I pay $9,000 in taxes every year and we get nothing for it,” she said. Like others I interviewed, she felt that the federal government—especially under President Obama—was bringing down the hardworking rich and struggling middle while lifting the idle poor. She’d seen it firsthand and it felt unfair.
Such experiences make working-class women distrust men in general. They still have babies with men, but they seldom marry them. A whopping 50% of births to American women without college degrees are non-marital, but only 6% of births to college graduates are. Similar trends can be seen in Europe. In Britain 90% of professional couples wait until they are married before having kids, compared with only half of those who earn the minimum wage. Looking at eight European countries, Brienna Perelli-Harris of the University of Southampton and others found that the less educated a mother is, the more likely she is to have a baby outside marriage.