Mar­riage cul­ture is key to a healthy econ­omy, study says

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY CH­ERYL WETZSTEIN

Amer­ica’s eco­nomic re­vival is tied to the re­vival of a strong mar­riage cul­ture, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

Com­pared with other fam­ily ar­range­ments, mar­riage of­fers the best eco­nomic out­comes for men, women, chil­dren and the nation, said Pa­trick Fa­gan, head of the Mar­riage and Re­li­gion Re­search In­sti­tute at the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil (FRC), in an anal­y­sis re­leased late last month.

Only 5.8 per­cent of mar­ried fam­i­lies lived in poverty in 2009, he noted in the new study, called “Marr iage and Eco­nomic Well-Be­ing: The Econ­omy of the Fam­ily Rises or Falls With Mar­riage.”

Hus­bands tend to have more sta­ble em­ploy­ment his­to­ries and earn, on av­er­age, al­most 30 per­cent more than men who are not mar­ried. Wives are less likely to be im­pov­er­ished, and chil­dren from mar­ried fam­i­lies have stronger “eco­nomic mo­bil­ity” as adults, mean­ing they are more likely to work their way from good jobs to bet­ter ones over their life­times, ac­cord­ing to the data.

Even re­mar­riage, as fraught as it is with chal­lenges, can have pos­i­tive eco­nomic out­comes for all in­volved, Mr. Fa­gan said. “Re­marr iage tends to in­crease in­come and re­store some lost wealth” for men and women, while the poverty rate among chil­dren whose moth­ers re­marry af­ter di­vorce goes down by 66 per­cent, he said.

Mr. Fa­gan ar­gued that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s wel­fare and anti-poverty safety net, which now ac­counts for $112 bil­lion a year, is needed in part be­cause of the so­cial costs from high rates of co­hab­it­ing, di­vorce, un­wed child­bear­ing and sin­gle-par­ent­ing.

These un­mar­ried fam­ily for ms are associated with lower in­comes and less wealth, ac­cord­ing to data from the 2007 Sur­vey of Con­sumer Fi­nances cited in the FRC re­port.

For in­stance, the me­dian in­come of house­holds with chil­dren was $82,270 for in­tact mar­ried fam­i­lies; $65,816 for re­marr ied step­fam­i­lies; $45,248 for wid­owed fam­i­lies and un­mar­ried-but-co­hab­it­ing “step­fam­i­lies”; $37,021 for di­vorced fam­i­lies; $28,794 for “in­tact” co­hab­it­ing fam­i­lies and marr ied-but-sep­a­rated fam­i­lies; and $16,454 for nev­er­mar­ried, sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies, the re­port says.

The dif­fer­ences were even

Hus­bands tend to have more sta­ble em­ploy­ment his­to­ries and earn, on av­er­age, al­most 30 per­cent more than men who are not mar­ried. Wives are less likely to be im­pov­er­ished, and chil­dren from mar­ried fam­i­lies have stronger “eco­nomic mo­bil­ity” as adults, mean­ing they are more likely to work their way from good jobs to bet­ter ones over their life­times, ac­cord­ing to the data.

starker when me­dian net worth of house­holds with chil­dren was com­pared by fam­ily struc­ture: Wid­owed fam­i­lies were worth $295,400, fol­lowed by in­tact mar­ried fam­i­lies, with $228,200. The next two high­est me­dian net worths were among re­mar­ried step­fam­i­lies, with $96,000, and di­vorced fam­i­lies, with $32,390. Other fam­ily types had net worths be­tween $9,000 and $400, ac­cord­ing to the Sur­vey of Con­sumer Fi­nances.

“If the gov­ern­ment pledged to re­duce fam­ily break­down by just 1 per­cent, tax­pay­ers would save around $1.1 bil­lion a year,” Mr. Fa­gan said. Amer­ica’s eco­nomic for­tunes and sex­ual cul­ture “rise or fall to­gether,” he added.

The 2010 U.S. Cen­sus found that tra­di­tional mar­ried-cou­ple house­holds now make up less than half of all Amer­i­can house­holds, a sharp drop from the im­me­di­ate post-World War II pe­riod. In 1950, 78 per­cent of homes were led by hus­band­wife couples, a share that fell to 52 per­cent (54.5 mil­lion homes) by 2000 and sank again to 48 per­cent (56.5 mil­lion homes) in 2010.

The sec­ond-most com­mon house­hold in 2010 was a oneper­son home. Some 31 mil­lion peo­ple lived alone, rep­re­sent­ing 27 per­cent of the 116.7 mil­lion house­holds, ac­cord­ing to cen­sus data.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.