Justin Bieber has left his teen years behind and is entering adulthood with less than a clean slate. The Canadian pop star, who once exuded an image of wholesome innocence, has been pummeled with a string of legal issues, such as drinking and driving, resisting arrest, spitting on a neighbor and threatening him, egging a neighbor’s house, and drag racing. In addition, he has also been photographed in jail showing off tattoos, and a surveillance camera caught him using the jail restroom, exposing another side of him we probably did not need to see. Okay… that was not his fault. The questions are: who will be right about Justin Bieber? Will his single-mother upbringing be to blame or to be commended?
According to economist James Heckman, “The family into which a child is born plays a significant role in determining lifetime opportunities.” Justin Bieber was born to a single mother, a circumstance that has been proven to limit a child’s opportunities. His mother was not famous or wealthy, nor did she have any connections. What she did have was a son who liked to perform, and enough sense to post a video of her son’s performance on YouTube This quickly went viral and turned the young Justin into a superstar almost overnight. It would appear that regardless of the family into which a child is born, the opportunities can still abound. In his case, they can soar.
But Justin Bieber is not off the hook yet. According to Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, “Young men and women who hail from intact married households are 44% more likely to graduate from college.” Bieber has yet to announce his plans to attend university, but whether or not this would benefit him is for anyone to speculate.
Sara McLanahan, a professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, found that young boys raised by a single mother were twice as likely to be incarcerated as opposed to young boys raised by intact married parents. In the last year, he has certainly done his part to give that research validity. So the question remains: Who will be right about Justin Bieber? Can he turn it all around and fly straight? Or will he find himself in more trouble?
There are two sides to every coin. Actor Robert Downey Jr. was raised by both parents in a healthy family and still ended up in trouble. What? How did that happen? Downey had a plethora of run-ins with the law and knew plenty about incarceration. He was in and out of rehab for years, and for a while, it was uncertain whether he would ever straighten out. What led to his troubles? He wasn’t raised by a single mother. As of 2014, and for several years now, Downey is clean, happily married, and successful as ever, proving that it’s never too late to turn things around. It also proves that a person’s family situation does not necessarily dictate how a person will end up. There is plenty of research to support both sides of the coin, but the question remains: Who will be right about Justin Bieber? Both sides of the argument have equal share over the outcome.
By Christine Schlichte