But conservatives are right to point to the importance of bourgeois norms. Three institutions do an impressive job of reducing racial disparity: the military, marriage and church. As the A.E.I. study shows, black men who served in the military are more likely to be in the middle class than those who did not. Black men who attended religious services are 76 percent more likely to attain at least middle-class status than those who did not. As Chetty’s research shows, the general presence of fathers — not just one’s own — in the community is a powerful determinant of whether young men will be able to rise and thrive.
It's almost as if the general erosiveness of society is backstopped by substitute institutions.