The Economist recently reflected on the “skewed sex ratio” that often results in there being more women who desire marriage than available men. The exact opposite problem exists in China where girls are more often aborted. Research shows that most people marry someone of the same race who lives relatively close to them. If this is true then what is happening in the African-American community in America is an incredibly complicated social problem with massive implications.

One in nine black males between 20-29 years of age are behind bars. Add to this men who have been imprisoned and are now free and the number is much higher. Not only are incarcerated men not able to marry but ex-cons rarely make it in marriage either. Removing so many men from the marriage pool thus has enormous implications.

The Economist asks, “Could it be . . .  that mass incarceration is a symptom of increasing social dysfunction, and that it was this social dysfunction that caused marriage to wither?” The magazine says, “Probably not.” One study concludes that a higher male imprisonment has lowered the likelihood that women will marry and thus caused a great shift away from women towards men in marriage.

One obvious response to this social dysfunction lies in the power of the church, especially in the black population centers, to “be the church.” Community will provide real life solutions to such problems. A good starting point for those of us who are white would be to actually get to know our neighbors who may not live next door to us. Sometimes these neighbors live a lot closer to us than we know but we have not cared all that much to find out.

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