We have found in our 30+ years of research on successful marriage around the world that being married has huge economic advantages. Doubters have challenged us to “prove it!” The latest proof is in the just released special report by the Heritage Foundation entitled, Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty.
Being married has tons of advantages – love, companionship, children, shared responsibility, financial stability, and the like. But in the end, financial stability in the modern era may, in fact, drive almost everything else. We know this – among the principle advantages of marriage, is shared financial stability – now and in the future.
Here are the facts. The number one economic advantage of marriage is income! According to recent data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and by the Heritage Foundation, the 2009 poverty rate for single parents with children in the USA was “37.1 percent.” The poverty “rate for married couples with children was “6.8 percent.” The Heritage Report goes on to say that being “raised in a married family reduces a child’s probability of living in poverty by nearly 82%.” Need we say more about being married and its positive impact on our children?
The sad reality is this – in 1964, more than 9 out of 10 children born in the USA were born to married parents. In 2010 that number had dropped to 6 in 10 – a one-third drop. If you wanted to know the single greatest cause of childhood poverty, look no further.
The terrible truth of the matter is this – the number of children born out of wedlock has increased to just over 40% in 2010. And make no mistake about it, most of the births of our “out of wedlock” children have come to women who have a high school degree or less – those women who have the most difficult time going it alone in the world – those who are most likely to raise their children in poverty.
Here’s the bottom line: the huge increases in child poverty are twofold – out of wedlock childbearing and increases in single parenthood. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, some 71% of poor families with children are not married. So we ask this simple question – why would we continue to have children out of wedlock? What favors are we doing for our children? Why do we want to have children born in poverty? Why would we not want our children to be born out of poverty and with a reasonable chance of success?
Here is one undeniable fact – children born of married women who have some level of education beyond high school are much more likely to be born out of poverty. When it comes to child welfare, when it comes to combating poverty, get married!!
Now, on to another important fact in the battle for marriage. Income, income, income!
According to recent statistics, more than HALF of single mother families have an annual income of less than $25,000 per year. The median income for single mother families is also about $25,000. But imagine this – the median family income for married couple families is nearly $78,000 – more than THREE TIMES the income of single mother families!
Unbelievably, 41% of single-mother families live in poverty compared to only 9% for married-couple families – FOUR times as many! Moreover, 40% of single mothers are poor and nearly two-thirds of single mothers receive Food Stamps.
In the final analysis, married couples in the USA are no longer a majority according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In our estimation, that is a sad situation. This drop in marriage explains more than any other phenomenon, the substantial increases in child poverty and in the significant income disparity of married versus unmarried individuals.
In the end, the choice is yours. Do you want your children to live in poverty? Do you want to live in poverty yourself? Do you like the income difference between being married or not?
Here’s the deal – we do not advocate marriage for the sake of marriage, for eliminating poverty, or to address income disparity. We DO advocate marriage for the stability it provides our children, for the income stability it provides our families, and for the many positive opportunities marriage provides, in general, for all of us.