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Moynihan Report Revisited

NCJ Number
Gregory Acs; Kenneth Braswell; Elaine Sorensen; Margery Austin Turner
Date Published
June 2013
30 pages
This report revisits Daniel Moynihan's analysis of "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action" (1965), a report presented by the U.S. Department of Labor, which argued that the decline of the Black nuclear family would significantly impede Blacks' progress toward economic and social equality.
Written during the height of the Civil Rights movement and the beginning of the War on Poverty, the report focused on the economic prospects of Blacks and the need for Federal Government action to improve the situation. In his analysis of the decline of the Black nuclear family, Moynihan focused on the high non-marital birth rates among Blacks and the large proportion of Black children raised in female-headed households, which, Moynihan argued, had created a matriarchal society that undermined the responsibilities of Black men in providing for their families. In revisiting Moynihan's argument, this report examines the state of Black families today (2013). In addition to assessing how the circumstances of Black families have changed over time, it compares them with other racial and ethnic groups. This analysis concludes that although social progress has opened opportunities for many talented members of the Black community, large socioeconomic gaps between Blacks and Whites remain. Black poverty rates and unemployment rates are considerably higher than those of Whites, and Black children are more likely than White children to live in single-parent households; however, this has been true for all racial and ethnic groups. This report also explores factors that may have influenced the limited, slow progress for Black females, including the criminal justice system's adverse influence on the economic and social opportunities of Black men. The report concludes with suggestions for improving the circumstances of Black families and reducing racial disparities. 13 figures and 15 references