The XX Factor

Are 40 Percent of Young Americans “Love Children”?

Having encountered the complicated love life of Peter Orszag, the media’s primary response seems to be shock that multiple women would willingly procreate with the man. Personally, I’m more taken by journalists’ enduring attachment to the phrase “love child .” I’ve yet to read an Orszag analysis that does not make liberal use of the phrase. What distinguishes love children from non-love children? Presumably the former is a euphemism for children born out of wedlock, and it’s certainly softer than various other euphemisms for the same. But it does seem odd that we’re still calling out the 40 percent of American kids born to unmarried parents. (I’m not even sure who this stigmatizes; are kids born to married parents conceived out of dreary obligation?) The phrase also connotes scandal and secrecy; John Edward’s daughter was baptized as a love child the moment she was discovered. But again, this seems weird in the Orszag context. Young Tatiana was apparently conceived within the dull confines of a committed relationship. It’s not much of a scandal at all, which is perhaps why everyone is leaning so hard on the geek-chic angle.

Photograph of Peter Orszag by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.