The Decline of the Family and America’s Loneliness Epidemic

In the past few years, evidence has mounted of widespread loneliness in the U.S., which has been connected to alarming rates of suicide and drug addiction, among much else. To Kay Hymowitz, there is overwhelming reason to believe that behind the loneliness epidemic are the massive social changes that began in the middle of the last century—what sociologists term the Second Demographic Transition (SDT)—bringing about lower fertility, less marriage, more births out of wedlock, and more divorce. She writes:

Postwar baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, were Generation Zero for the SDT in the United States. Now shuffling their way into their sixties and seventies, older boomers give a glimpse of the long-term downside of the post-SDT culture. If we had to pick just one word to describe it, “lonely” would do. In widely quoted research, . . . Ashton M. Verdery and Rachel Margolis uncovered a recent surge in the number of “kinless” older adults. Lower fertility translates into fewer siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, whether for hospital visits or emergency contacts.

A jump in the number of never-married and divorced adults is also part of the kinlessness story. [Verdery and Margolis] don’t mention cohabitation, but it’s a key ingredient in the rise of kinlessness. Superficially, cohabitation looks roughly equivalent to marriage; couples live together as “husband and wife,” sharing a bed, living space, meals, and, in many cases, children, but without the ring and city-hall certificate. In reality, especially in the U.S., shacking up is a kind of marriage-lite that has added to the tenuousness of post-transition relations. Cohabiting couples break up faster and more often than marrieds. Separated, cohabiting fathers are more likely to withdraw from their kids’ lives than previously married and divorced dads, who are already more unreliable than married dads still in the house. . . .

In translating family formation into a strictly private matter, the SDT whistled past a critical fact of our history—namely, that kinship has been the most powerful glue of human groups since Homo sapiens first discovered the mother-in-law. . . . [T]hough marriage has shape-shifted over the centuries and across cultures, it has always defined those people—spouses, parents, children, grandparents, siblings, in-laws—to whom we owe special attention and mutual protection. That would explain why cohabiting couples, even those with children, don’t have the same support from extended family as married couples with children. Marriage creates kin; cohabitation does not.

Read more at City Journal

More about: American society, Family, Marriage, Politics & Current Affairs

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security