Marriage Reduces Childhood Poverty by 2/3’rds

Family Research Council’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released a synthesis paper today (27 May) showing that economic well-being in the United States is strongly related to marriage. The paper, entitled Marriage and Economic Well-Being, shows that married couples are better off economically than persons in any other family structure. The paper reports that only 5.8 percent of married families were living in poverty in 2009.

Of the paper, MARRI Director Pat Fagan, Ph.D., said: “This research clearly documents why marriage is an important and fundamental part of society. Having the security of marriage in which to foster children is vital to reducing reliance on government welfare programs which cost taxpayers at least $112 billion annually. For men, being married proves an economic boon. Married men tend to have more stable employment histories and make, on average, almost 30 percent more than their non-married counterparts. Marriage also affects women and children positively. Married women are less likely to be impoverished, and children from married families have stronger economic mobility as adults. “Despite the disastrous effects of divorce on society, remarriage can have positive economic impacts on broken families. Remarriage tends to increase income and restore some lost wealth. The rate of poverty among children whose mothers remarry after divorce is reduced by 66 percent.

But you won’t hear the Child Poverty Action Group mentioning the ‘m’ word!

Sadly, the UK version of the CPAG even attacked the Conservative party when they suggested tax breaks for marriage!! They said “Tax breaks for marriage would squander resources needed to end child poverty.”

The report “The Value of Family – Fiscal Benefits of Marriage and Reducing Family Breakdown in New Zealand” commissioned by Family First NZ and prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) estimated that the fiscal cost to the taxpayer of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates is at least $1 billion per year and has cost approximately $8 billion over the past decade. The study shows that the decline of marriage, NZ’s high teenage fertility rate, and our rate of solo parenthood is not just a moral or social concern but should also be a concern of government and policymakers. The report states that even a small reduction in family breakdown and increases in marriage rates could provide significant savings for taxpayers.

“While measuring the costs of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates raises challenges, overlooking these costs would mean that we would have little chance of understanding some of the most important issues facing New Zealand’s most vulnerable families,” says Dr Patrick Nolan, the author of the report and senior economist at the NZIER.

The focus has been on ‘child poverty’ but this misses the real issue – that is, poverty amongst families with children, and the way that divorce, unwed childbearing, teenage pregnancy and sole parenting contributes to that poverty. For example, sole parents have the lowest average living standards of all economic family unit types.



1 comment for “Marriage Reduces Childhood Poverty by 2/3’rds

  1. Massoud
    30 May 2011 at 1:56 am

    First things first: context is everything. This report by the US group, MARRI, needs to be considered with that knowledge foremost in the skeptical eye.

    MARRI, according to their website, believes that “the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human and social goods and the core strength of the United States, and a norm to be considered again, first for those who worship God, but also for all men and women of good will.”

    In other words, it is not just family that makes America great, but going to church, worshipping, patriotism, and basically Apple pie. All hands on chests now as we sing from “Sea to Shining Sea.” A veritable evangelical grabbag wishlist of how the world should be. Atheists, you are lousy parents.

    Inadvertantly it justifies it’s defence of marriage in economic (fiscal) terms, therefore immediately succumbing to one of the very deep malaises of what is wrong with the core of our society: seeing every issue in monetary terms and people as “economic units”.

    Marriage is still very popular, and will stay so. So will divorce, even among evangelicals. The trick is: how do people stay married when they live in a context that tempts and torments them with endless choices and a system fixated on image and consumption? In that context, the wife/husband simply becomes an outdated advert for a shoddy product that has been consumed and that now you can upgrade. Are you satisfied, customer?

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