Murray considers in his book three aspects of what he thinks are correlated: illegitimacy, economic inactivity and crime. He thinks that last two are caused by first and the unemployment has caused divorces as men are less attractive and the state benefit for single parents offers an alternative to marriage. But no statistical evidence proves that the opposite about rising employment is true as well: counties were unemployment has fallen have experienced no change in illegitimacy.
Murray combines the statistics for illegitimacy and the number of persons in the social group V in different counties and finds a good correlation. This can mean that as the poor communities gather, the social pattern changes and a one-parent family will become a norm. He thinks these changes in the society are sensational and should not be ignored, but faced.
As the illegitimate boys grow up without fathers in poor conditions, they are tempted to steal as their situation is bad. They also have no archetype to accept from a father and are more likely to have illegitimate children as their fathers did.
The current welfare policy favours single parents and unemployed people. That will create a temptation for couples to remain secretly cohabiting, but not to marry, in order to live in a free council house and get benefits. But the mean life of cohabiting is 5 times less than that of marriages, so children in this case are more likely to be left with one parent.
The unemployment benefit is usually larger than the wage the poor can obtain when they are working at low-paid jobs. It is called the poverty trap and will encourage people to the unemployment as they will not understand the long-term benefits of employment (like the future pay rises and increases in skills).
The solution for this is to make the benefits for married couples at least as large as those for married (the minimalist solution). This would not change the attitudes of people towards favouring the marriage and would be very expensive. Murray argues that the state cannot be in the position of giving aid to people as their parents and friends do, because state can be cheated very easily, so his real solution would be to economically penalise single women, so that they would demand marriage from men. Murray reaches this decision from the comparison of todays world with Victorian era where divorce was impossible and thus illegitimacy was low. Then the crime was also low and so was unemployment. So Murray simply thinks the two-parent family should be restored and the problems will solve by themselves.
Critics from professional social scientist concentrate mainly on the simplicity and on the false use of the statistics in Murray's argument. The correlation between illegitimacy and economic inactivity does not necessary mean causation, couple of examples how the statistics could have been interpreted differently:
Unemployment is considered to be mainly among elderly and illegitimacy among younger people. So it is false to combine them.
The growing trend in divorce doesn't necessary imply the unpopularity of marriage, but maybe the growing popularity of cohabitation. The number of children without a parent is rising much slower than the number of illegitimate children born.
The crime rate is only higher amongst illegitimate children because they are poorer and need to steal the food.
Critics also think Murray is only looking illegitimacy, which is simplistic, because things are more complex and involve the rising level of overall poverty, exclusion from the society and economic recession. All these contributed also towards the unemployment and crime.
The punishment of illegitimacy could worsen the situation, because the decision for single parenthood is not always based on economic reasons and is not voluntary for most of the time. Selective benefit is extremely hard to set and already at present not all women are receiving benefits, although they would offer more freedom to women.
Besides the policies Murray offers have been unsuccessfully tried before in 1930-s. And considering the forcing of males to marriage, Murray does not mention the Child Support Agency, that did exactly that, but failed.
Critics consider the comparison with the Victorian era to be irrelevant, as they think is the comparison between UK and USA, because Murray has not done enough research. Murray is with an extreme right wing attitude in this case and uses his subjective view, whereas social trends should be looked at more objective side.
Critics are also suspicious about the fact that the trend is only happening in lower classes and that the welfare state causes it. Welfare state, if it is forcing people, should also do so with upper classes. Besides the statistics showing growing difference between upper and lower classes are made up by Murray based only indirect evidence from US.
The policies Murray offers won't work in the short run, because it takes time to change people's attitudes. During that time the mothers unmarried at present will have to live in poverty and their children would suffer most. Besides it can be argued that present situation is temporary, because women have become feminists and men are left a bit behind in their fight for their rights. As soon as men will find their correct place in marriage through cooperation, the tension releases and the social attitude for marriage will improve by itself.