Marriage is the Strongest Factor in Reducing Child Poverty in the U.S.

Over a third of single-parent families with children are poor, compared  to only seven percent of married families. Overall, children in married  families are 82 percent less likely to be poor than are children of  single parents. The strong  impact of marriage in reducing poverty still appears when married and  non-married families of the same race and education level are compared.

Around three quarters of means-tested welfare assistance to families with children goes to single parents. In 2011,  government spent roughly $330 billion providing cash, food, housing,  medical care, and social services to poor and low income single parents.  On average, the annual cost of benefits came to around $30,000 per  family.

Most poor children live in single-parent families. Seventy-one percent of poor families with children are headed by single  parents, mostly single mothers. Compared to children raised  in an intact family, children raised in single-parent homes are more  likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused;  smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent,  delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school  performance; and drop out of high school.

Rising non-marital births leads to increased poverty. In 2010, 41  percent of children were born outside marriage, up from roughly 5  percent in 1960. Children born to unmarried women are very likely to  live in persistent poverty.

Low income non-married parents value marriage. However, they have often lack understanding of the importance of having a  strong, married family structure before bringing children into the  world, and they lack the skills for healthy marriage. The sequence for  most low-income mothers is child first,  marriage later, which generally leads to negative social and economic  outcomes.

Solutions: Marriage and Child Poverty. First, government and culture must clearly communicate the critical  importance of marriage to reducing future poverty and other social ills.  Second, youth at risk of becoming unwed parents deserve knowledge and  skills to prepare them for the  task of bearing and raising children. Third, welfare should be changed  to encourage rather than penalize marriage, as the current system does.


3 thoughts on “Marriage Reduces Child Poverty

  1. Very informative. If people would put God first in their lives all this would correct itself but unfortunately we live in a fallen world and many follow their fleshly desires. This stresses the importance of marriage first and total abstinence before marriage. It also stresses that once we say, “I do”, that we mean it, that we stick it out for better of worse. Our kids are worth it and our marriages are worth it. Thanks for sharing this very informative blog.

God bless you! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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