Defying the “Success Sequence”

email Email

The New York Times recently acknowledged that some of the recent changes in marriage and childbearing have damaged our country. Noting that a big majority—55 percent—of first children born to millennial couples are now born outside of marriage, columnist David Leonhardt explained that this “new normal” violates the “success sequence” established long-ago by the Brookings Institution.

That research proved that young people, whatever their background, could minimize any chance of long-term poverty by taking thee simple steps: graduating from high school, getting a job—any job—right after graduation from high school or college, and bearing children only after marriage, not before.

The success sequence shows that good choices can help all people avoid bad outcomes, even if they’re disadvantaged, while bad choices are likely to produce bad outcomes, even for the more privileged. Welcoming children in their traditional context of marital commitment, rather than in more tenuous, non-marital relationships, will benefit those children, their parents and society at large.

email Email

Comments (21)

Leave a comment
  1. Ty  •  Jul 5, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I remember this coming up on the show… but being the token liberal here, let me offer some push back.

    I do not deny the success sequence, I think most people would be far better off if they followed that path instead of alternative paths of say, NOT getting a job right after high school or having kids before marriage.

    But I have a pretty basic question. Why are millennials NOT engaging in the behavior and sequence as much as their predecessors? Is it jut a function of some toxic LIBERAL values that have pervaded the culture making people more LAZY and less responsible?

    I have another view, one less constrained by Michaels conservative dogma and trying to fit the universe into a behavioral focused slot.

    I think the reason less high school grads are getting jobs is partly affected by high school jobs being lower pay adjusted for inflation than they used to be. And why are fewer millennials getting married before having children? In part because of that first fact. Take a job or not, the median wages are lower than what they once were, and as a consequence? The men are less "marriageable" than their predecessors were.

    Women tend to value financial stability in a mate, and ones job prospects with just a high school diploma are much less stable and lucrative than before. They even talk of a "gig" economy being a thing, which is inherently unstable and many of those like uber driver jobs are likely to vanish as AI and automation supplants that human labor.

    Look at this chart.

    And that chart just tracks the differential from 1979 to 2015 for FULL TIME workers !!! We all know there has been a rise of part time work that likely makes those numbers look even worse!

    College grads have done better, but look at high school graduate males. They are about 20% lower earnings, EVEN THE ONES working full time. The men are less marriageable.

    Less money in the pockets of men, less stable work contributes to less marriage of those men to women, which contributes to more children out of wedlock.

    Now I know I have committed a great taboo, I have introduced variables that affect the fates of men outside their own behavior, I realize this will be difficult to digest from some conservative corners where there seem to be this belief that man is some hyper self actualized being that can reshape the universe purely based on his own will. Because Elon Musk is doing that, that must be typical and expected across the entire population!

    Or not. Don't be ideologues guys. I am trying to save you from the shackles of your own prison like ideas.

    Side note. Most of the guys I know that graduated college, got married. Because they are better men? Better human beings? More kind? No. Because their financial prospects are better, they outperform men who got a job and worked full time right out of highschool. Women see those college grads, and get REAL interested real quick. It's like they turn into huntresses and put those guys on lockdown asap.

    My lesson in this ? Well, conservatives, if you REALLY value marriage and want people to do better in life and have less children out of wedlock, then perhaps you ought to take an interest in the financial prospects of people so that they are more likely to get married and be considered marriageable!

    Maybe you ought to take a break about fantasizing over tax cuts and spend a little more time thinking about how we can improve the economy and job market or… dare I say it, redistribution, so that even people that do not go to college can have decent life prospects if they do the right thing.

  2. Rizzo  •  Jul 5, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Ty… hmmm, so the morality of marriage before kids, is ONLY applicable if you go to college, make a lot of money and are considered "marriageable" by the opposite sex?
    And… if you choose a different path, then you throw-out those morals, become someone who can no longer be accountable for their own actions, and become a ward of the state, through your leftist, Utopian dream-world plan.
    Got it!

    • Ty  •  Jul 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Just to be clear.

      Is it better for a person who has not graduated college, even with some intermittent work to get married before having children? Sure. But if you look at a macro scale beyond the level of individual behavior, are women more likely to consider a guy "worthy" of them (and women tend to be the more choosy sex for long term mates) if they only have a high school diploma with less than full time work, and seemingly fewer job prospects compared to his peers with a college degree?

      Now I need you to do something. Imagine you had the power of Q from star trek and could snap your fingers and go back in time. Before the millennials, perhaps a couple generations before the millennials. Being Q, he could change reality itself on a whim. Now have Q take those SAME people from the past who got married at a higher rate, with the SAME values, and have him snap his fingers such that the larger macro society was producing more intermittent jobs with lower wages for high school grads compared to college grads.

      Do you think marriage rates would remain unaffected? Or decline?

      I think they would decline. Perhaps not as much, I can't rule out and cultural differences in attitude until an actual impossible experiment was run, but these are the kinds of thoughts that might run through the mind of a liberal that looks at the world beyond merely what an individual does by himself.

  3. Rizzo  •  Jul 5, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Star Trek?
    Excellent point, leftist, liberal dreams, only succeed in Sci-Fi.

    • Ty  •  Jul 6, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Give us time, this world will not be spared our ideas. And fear not, even on star trek there was an outlet for the more pure market in all things types. The Ferengi !!!!!!

  4. Rizzo  •  Jul 6, 2017 at 7:33 am

    I don't need time, or sci-fi dreams… history clearly proves that no economic system in the history of the world has created a higher standard of living for all, than the free-market system.

    • Ty  •  Jul 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      You don't seem to have time for thought period. The point of bringing up Q and star trek initially was to remove standard constraints of reality to stress test your beliefs and intuitions about what would happen without getting bogged down on the constraints of nature we are bound by. We can't know for sure since we can't run back in time and change variables in society like typical incomes, but we can imagine such changes and speculate on potential fallout.

      That is one of the perks of the science fiction genre, you can remove the standard constraints we have in society today to explore ideas and dilemmas in a cleaner and more pure way. Of course, you play your part too well, almost becoming my own caricature of the typical talk radio listener, completely incurious and lacking introspection about your own knowledge and assumptions about the world.

      I presented a scenario where a previous population with higher marriage rates before children had all their variables held constant, with the one difference being the job market and relative starting wages for high school grads. Then, foolishly asked you to imagine (a bridge too far it seems for many conservative minds) what kinds of effects that would have to marriage rates.

      It's possible they would still be as high, but "I" suspect they would take some dip, if not to current millennial levels, something in between what they had originally and what we have now. That's a mental stress test, removing the constraints of the world we observe, and you can't be bothered to consider it. Brick wall.

      • AARON SCHULTZ  •  Jul 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        Stress testing ones ideas outside the constraints of the reality that we are bound by is nothing more than creating a fantasy world. Imagination is great, but I don't see how this helps one make a case for the superiority of their ideas. Had Rizzo invoked Star Wars to support his point of view and justified his imaginary scenario as a place to stress test his ideas without being bogged down by the consttaints of the reality of leftist ideologs, I doubt he would have been given a pass.

        I enjoy the debate, but had to call BS on that one.

  5. Rizzo  •  Jul 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Will somebody PLEASE beam Ty aboard The Starship reality?

    If not, allow me to play the role of Spock… you my friend are illogical.

  6. Rizzo  •  Jul 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Conservative: Know the rules for success. Follow the rules for success.
    It will very likely lead to success. At the very least, it almost guarantees you a life of worth and self-reliance.

    Liberal: Yeah, but what about…

    Conservative: Follow the rules.

    Liberal: But what about income inequality?

    Conservative: Follow the rules.

    Liberal: But what about all the victims of slavery?

    Conservative: Follow the damn rules?

    Liberal: Russian intervention?

    Conservative: Follow the rules!

    Liberal: Can we still march, protest, destroy stu

    • Ty  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 4:06 am

      Follow the rules? You keep missing the point, you keep focusing internally, pretending that is all that affects the fates of men.

      I think you need to spend some time looking into what I dubbed on another forum, the Box Wars.

      Go look at some of those examples, learn how liberals and conservatives see the world.

      And not all liberals think things like slavery or income inequality are holding people back. I don't think that is a primary driver in many cases of the differences we see, and that includes differences when we hold things like effort constant. The world we live in is not a fair world, but we have a say in how the world is shaped. That is what I consider a liberal project for society. Not all differentials in outcome are based on peoples personal efforts and behavior. That is reason enough to intervene in certain areas to make sure the floor of outcomes is not too low.

      • Rizzo  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 8:43 am

        I don't believe in "fate"… In America, we don't have predetermined fate. We are the captains of our ship. We control our destiny. Will there be troubled waters, and unforeseen, uncontrollable obstacles? Absolutely…. But, it does NOT stop us.

        "The floor of outcomes" has been lifted to levels unseen in world-history by the American Free-Market.
        The Free-Market creates wealth.
        Socialism destroys wealth and redistributes an ever shrinking pie.
        And of course "we have a say in how our world is shaped" (you have a real knack for the OBVIOUS). But, we will not let you leftists destroy The Constitution in your effort to FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE OUR COUNTY, the greatest country in the history of the world.
        You act as though we do NOTHING for our poor. We spend billions, if not trillions on them.
        And yes, not all outcomes are based on personal effort…. there are no guarantees (duh)
        But, MOST ARE…. Conservatives know that the ONLY way to ensure success is through personal responsibility, and creating a culture of responsibility. Leftists love creating a society of victims and growing the culture of victomhood. It's pathetic.


      • Ty  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 11:27 pm

        I believe in statistics, 'Hannity.'

        Saying something is not guaranteed or determined does not imply outside influences do not effect things.

  7. Rizzo  •  Jul 7, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Liberal: Can we still march, protest, destroy stuff, and act all indignant about EVERYTHING?

    Conservative: Sure, well except for the destroying of property… but, just FOLLOW THE RULES!

  8. Victor  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

    That's not about people success, but about destroying the institution of Family as an obstacle in global mass control agenda pushed by the Leftists. Family and Faith are the cornerstones of Freedom. With those destroyed an individual's "immune system" is compromised and he/she is fully dependent on the government or any other tyranny systems. After having this stage achieved the tyranny will enslave humans – the ultimate goal of all modern dictatorships, be it Communism or Islamism.

    • Rizzo  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Victor… You are absolutely right. They want control! A government powerful enough to give you anything, can take away EVERYTHING.
      I don't want any entity to have that type of control of me.
      They take from the "rich", and give to the poor. Thus creating a dependency on government handouts… eventually leading to more poverty, and less "rich"… eventually leading to total government dependence by all. Government already controls over 50% of what I earn… and morons like Ty want that percentage to be even HIGHER.
      He will NEVER say what he thinks the upper limit is on government confiscating people's hard-earned money. The answer is, it's NEVER ENOUGH, and they ALWAYS DEMAND MORE.
      Ty… Why not just let government control ALL MONEY? And dole it out, as they see fit.

    • Ty  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      Who is trying to construct a society where people are fully dependent on the government? Are you talking about edge cases like severe mental and physical cripples? That is not the bulk of the nation. You conservatives can't seem to moderate your assumptions about what liberals want. It's just a binary view, either we have some libertarian open and free utopia, or we have absolute command and control state control of everything and tyranny.

      Not the only choices. We take from Rizzo, we take from me, we take from you Victor when we tax people to pay for the entitlement known as k-12 education. Every child gets access to it, whether or not their parents paid enough to cover the costs. We socialized the costs, and you are OK with that. Are you a communist? A socialist? Just a strones throw away from some Stalinist paradise?

      This is a cartoon like view of civilization and government and trade offs of more freedom and earnings vs more societal goods. I get it, the talk radio crowd is preached to by cartoon villains, but that is no excuse to be bowled over by them.

      • AARON SCHULTZ  •  Jul 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm

        Are we really OK with taking money from everyone to pay for education at the federal level? That hasn't been the most successful experiment in US history. Statistics do not show this as a glowing success. What business does the federal government have in education. There is nothing in the Constitution to provide the federal government with any authority in this area. Education is a state issue according to our Constitution.

        Now if Ty wants to lead his state to a socialized education system he is free to try and his fellow state citizens are free to participate. If Rizzo wants to establish a libertarian system of education in his state, he is free to try as well.

        The constitution is silent on this subject, and most subjects for a very simple reason. If either Ty or Rizzo creates a system that succeeds or fails or appeals or does not appeal to the residents of their state or any other state, the people are free to vote with their feet. They can choose which state to be a part of; which systems to support through residency.

        This was the genius of our founding fathers. A system where states can experiment without causing systemic failure by forcing all states to participate in their experiment.

        When the federal government grows outside it's Constitutional bounds, it creates a higher risk of systemic failure. If either Rizzo or Ty fail at the state level, only their state is bound by the system and legislation they've enacted. If they succeed other states are free to emulate them. If they force their agendas at the federal level, the entire nation is affected for better or worse and no state is free from their influence.

        Every society needs a framework in which to operate. The Constitution is our framework and the rules that should be followed. The Constitution gives both Ty and Rizzo the freedom to pursue their dreams and experiment with their ideas at the state level. If their ideas have merit, the ammendment process allows all states to adopt them in due time.

      • Rizzo  •  Jul 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

        Well said, Aaron. I could not agree more.
        Leftists demand one-size fits all, top-down, centralized government… Look no further than their desire for single-payer. Uniformity and conformity is the name of their game.

  9. Rizzo  •  Jul 9, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Ty…. Wow…. Does your rain man bit ever stop? You can't just keep repeating K-12, K-12, K-12.
    We get it. Government taxes people to run REALLY CRAPPY SCHOOLS. So, now that's a justification for every liberal Utopian dream.
    You can't even name one damn thing that government does better than the private sector, yet you just deman more, more, more.
    HOW MUCH? Are there any limits to how much money (percent) that government can steal from hard-working people?
    Is there a limit to how much you leftists can sink our country into debt?
    When do we reach Utopia?

  10. Rizzo  •  Jul 9, 2017 at 10:03 am

    "Who is trying to construct a society where people are fully dependent on the government?"
    If not, where does it end?
    What government steals today is always more than yesterday?
    What you leftists demand in terms of spending is always more than yesterday.
    You, you prefer slow-walking this leftist, totalitarian state. Others, on your side, want it NOW.
    Either way, YOU BOTH HAVE THE SAME GOALS AND DESTINATION. The elimination of private property rights, the loss of individual freedom, and ultimately, GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED "UTOPIA".

Tell Us What You Think

All fields required. The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. By using this website you agree to accept our Terms of Use.


Listen Commercial FREE  |  On-Demand
Login Join
Advertise with us Advertisement

Follow Michael

The Michael Medved Show - Mobile App

Download from App Store Get it on Google play
Listen to the show on your amazon echo devices
Michael Medved's History Store Also available on TuneIn