kkhushi wrote:
hi actually I'm bit confuse between d and e the statement states that the ration of divorce has increased since 1940 which leads to the greater no. of children living with single parent only.
and option d clearly states that children before 1940 still living with one parent only, isn't this weakening the author's argument that before 1940 children still were living with only single parent whereas option e states that that children living with one parent bc the parent has died and has decreased since 1940. If it was written increase i would have gone with option E. Please address this once
kntombat wrote:
AndrewN,
IanStewart, I would love to hear your take on this question.
I had narrowed it down to A and E but chose A.
Hello, everyone. In the interest of assisting the community, I will post my thoughts on the entire question, passage and all. First off, we know from the question stem that we are looking to
weaken the conclusion. What does this short passage have in store for us?
Quote:
The ratio of divorces to marriages has increased since 1940. Therefore, there must be a greater proportion of children living with only one natural parent than there was in 1940.
Okay, this could not be any more direct. A
ratio of divorces to marriages has increased since a certain point in time, and, based on this ratio, the conclusion is put forth that there must be an accompanying increase in the
proportion of children living with only one natural parent since that time.
As an aside, any time I see quant words such as
ratio and
proportion, I become more interested in qualifying actual
numbers of something, since a ratio may not present a clear enough picture. Anyway, enough of Quant for now.
Quote:
(A) The number of marriages entered into by women twenty-five to thirty-five years old has decreased since 1940.
This one starts out promising enough, drawing attention to
the number of marriages, but without more information about this particular group of women, we cannot say that this consideration brings enough to the table to do anything to the argument, weaken or otherwise. Does this group comprise the largest proportion of women entering into marriages, and has this been the case since 1940? What about the
total number of marriages to serve as a comparison between the year 1940 and whatever year the present may be? We cannot say anything for sure, and that is a real problem.
Quote:
(B) When there is a divorce, children are often given the option of deciding which parent they will live with.
This should be an easier elimination. First off, watch out for language that narrows or restricts the applicability of the information that follows. A common CR trap is to restrict information to the point that the test-taker
assumes something will be true when that may not be the case. Remember, the passage only provides information about divorce as part of a ratio, so now we are working with a sliver of information within that larger framework. In any case, whether children choose one parent or the other is beside the point. We have nothing to lean on in the way of a comparison between 1940 and the present to shed light on the conclusion.
Quote:
(C) Since 1940 the average number of children in a family has remained approximately steady and has not been subject to wide fluctuations.
We have seen a ratio and a proportion up to this point, and now we are fed information on an
average, too. All three of these mathematical terms provide vague information until we get some sort of definitive number or total to anchor them to. Sure, it can be tempting to
assume that if the average number of children has remained steady, it should be true that if the divorce rate is increasing, more children will live in single-parent homes. But now that we are getting into averages, we might reasonably ask ourselves which families are the ones getting broken up, those with no children or maybe one child, or those with five, perhaps. That is, it could or could not be true that an increase in the divorce-to-marriage ratio, paired with a steady
average number of children
per family (not necessarily per broken family), would lead to the conclusion given in the passage. Once again, we cannot make that call without further information.
Quote:
(D) Before 1940 relatively few children whose parents had both died were adopted into single-parent families.
The conclusion specifies children living with one
natural parent—i.e. a biological parent. This answer choice has us focusing on a different group of children altogether, those with no surviving biological parents. Furthermore, adoption is entering into the picture unnecessarily. If the argument is based on natural parents, then we should get an answer choice that is centered on natural parents. Finally, just because we get information on conditions
before 1940, can we assume anything about the present, relative to the conclusion of the passage? This one misses the mark.
Quote:
(E) The proportion of children who must be raised by one parent because the other has died has decreased since 1940 as a result of medical advances.
Okay, we have a new proportion to consider here, one between households with two biological parents and those with single parents, and we need to consider this proportion twice over, once for conditions in 1940, once in the present. In 1940, single-parent homes as a result of the death of a spouse/parent were more prevalent than at present. Does this necessarily weaken the conclusion that
there must be a greater proportion of children living with only one natural parent than there was in 1940? No. But at the same time, it has introduced another factor to consider in the year-to-year comparison. Perhaps divorce and marriage rates between the two time periods have less to do with the proportion of children living in single-parent households than we were initially led to believe. This information
could weaken the
inference drawn in the passage, and we are only asked to find the answer choice that
most strongly weakens the conclusion. Compare this one to the others on a few criteria:
- Incorporates a period-to-period comparison √ (unlike (B) or (D))
- Focuses on children living with one natural parent √ (unlike (A), (C), or (D))
That is really as far as we need to go. Again, (E) is not proof positive that the conclusion is wayward, but it does the best job of the five answer choices presented diminishing the force of the evidence that would allow someone to make the inference in question. For this reason, we should feel comfortable getting behind it as the answer.
I hope that helps. Good luck with your studies.
- Andrew