Manhattan Institute (In support of Kay Hymowitz)

The Grants

  • April 2014: $150,000 pledge over two years in support of the William E. Simon Fellow
  • April 2013: $75,000 grant in support of the William E. Simon Fellow
  • April 2012: $75,000 grant in support of the William E. Simon Fellow
  • April 2011: $2,500 grant in support of the William E. Simon Fellow
  • April 2007: $140,000 pledge over two years in support of Kay Hymowitz’s research and book on gender roles
  • December 2004: $126,200 pledge over two years in support of Kay Hymowitz’s research on inner-city husbands/fathers

The Background:

In 1996, a Republican led Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which President Clinton signed into law in August of that year. This landmark welfare reform bill replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Unlike AFDC, which gave eligible families welfare assistance as long as they had children under the age of 18, TANF only allowed families to receive assistance for five years and required that the adults work in order to receive benefits.

The results of this legislation were striking. According to the Brookings Institute, “Between 1994 and 2005, the [welfare] caseload declined about 60%.” There was a reversal in inner-city poverty rates and generational welfare dependence, largely among African American single mothers and their children. This legislation, however, did not seem to affect inner-city, African American men or family stability. In 2004, 67% of African American children were born out of wedlock and 80% of inner-city children were growing up without fathers in their lives.

Within the last ten years, policy and opinion makers have begun to take interest in how outside forces are shaping marriage, family, and culture in 21st that they understand how family structure and traditional cultural institutions foster or hinder the wellbeing of society, particularly for low-income urban parents and their children. century urban America. It is imperative

The Grantee:

Founded in 1978, the Manhattan Institute seeks to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility. Through its Centers for Civic Innovation, Legal Policy, and Medical Progress, it has supported and publicized research on public policy issues including: taxes, welfare, crime, the legal system, urban life, and education. The Institute communicates its research and findings through books, reviews, interviews, speeches, articles, and op-ed pieces in order to influence public policy. In addition, it publishes City Journal, a quarterly magazine about urban governance and civic life.

Kay Hymowitz is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York City. She has degrees in English Literature from Brandeis, Tufts, and Columbia Universities and writes extensively on childhood, family issues, poverty, and cultural change in America. Hymowitz is a contributing editor of City Journal, is the author of four books, and has also written for major publications including The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, New York Newsday, The Public Interest, The Wilson Quarterly, and Commentary. In addition to her writing, Hymowitz has presented her work at many conferences and sits on the board of National Affairs and of Future of Children, a publication produced by the Brookings Institute and the Woodrow Wilson School. She has also discussed her work on numerous radio and television programs.

The Impact:

The William E. Simon Foundation’s support of Kay Hymowitz has allowed her to lay the scholarly groundwork on urban family renewal. Between 2004 and 2014, she studied the importance of marriage and its effects on poverty rates, the recent cultural shift in men’s behavior, and the causes and effects of gentrification in urban areas. After publishing numerous articles in City Journal, her research during this timeframe culminated in two books: Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age (2006) and Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys (2011).

Marriage and Caste in America examines how the dissolution of marriage as a way of life in certain communities has resulted in growing inequality and high rates of poverty. She explains that marriage is a wealth-building institution that creates a set of ideals for people to follow and gives youth a meaningful life script—childhood, adolescence, early adulthood preparing for work through schooling, marriage, and only then children. Separating marriage from child-bearing creates inequalities—financial, educational, health—that will only become more solidified as generation after generation rejects the importance of marriage and forgoes it as a result.

After publishing Marriage and Caste in America, Hymowitz explored the redefinition of gender roles in developed societies over the past 40 years and its impact on culture, particularly men’s behavior. In Manning Up, she examined how changes in the economy and culture have created a new stage of life, “pre-adulthood,” which is comprised of college-educated, single, young adults who live in cities. Adulthood has traditionally begun as people reached their 20s and started to marry. An adult’s role was generally understood to be creating and raising the next generation. Now, being an adult is equated to being self-sufficient. Delay in marriage age and advancement in women’s education and career achievements, she asserts, have turned men in their 20s and early 30s into boys, or “child-men.”

Hymowitz’s view is that the culture at large is uncertain about what it wants from its men. Fathers are said to be important, but at the same time, they have been made optional. Many women seem to want men who are confident and have a strong sense of themselves, but women are also put off by too much masculinity and authoritativeness. Hymowitz believes that a lot of men react to these mixed signals by retreating into themselves and delaying maturity. Women’s biological clock then becomes a major source of tension. By the time women reach their late 20s and early 30s, they generally want to marry and begin thinking about starting a family. Men do not necessarily have such a deadline and may not be ready for transition into adulthood.

Since Manning Up, Hymowitz has focused on the gentrification of Brooklyn neighborhoods and the resulting displacement of the working class. Her article, “How Brooklyn Got its Groove Back,” received over 50,000 page views and was ranked by the Atlantic as on one of the top ten pieces on cities in 2011. Her upcoming work will examine the shift from the manufacturing-based economy to the “knowledge economy” and its effects on the job market for those in inner-cities. Her research will explore policies that could help the urban poor acquire the education, social capital, and moral habits necessary to succeed in this new environment.

Hymowitz’s work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Post, the Washington Times, The Daily Best, National Review Online, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 20/20, PBS, Fox New’s “O’Reilly Factor,” NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” and People magazine. She has given numerous radio interviews, lectures on the material at universities, and has continued to blog at