Friday, June 25, 2010
Many people and organizations are concerned about children living in poverty in the United States, and a large number of these individuals and institutions think that the answer to the problem is more government handouts. A recent study of records from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and American Community Survey emphasizes that the main problem is the fact that two out of three poor children are living in single-parent households and the fact that when the single moms married the fathers of their children almost two out of three children are taken out of poverty. An article posted by Ken McIntyre on June 18, 2010, in Family and Religion and sent out by The Foundry linked to an article written by Robert Rector and published as a Web Memo by The Heritage Foundation and the twelve charts on marriage and poverty accompanying the article I found the articles and charts very interesting. One chart points out that the percentage of children born out of wedlock in 1930 was about 3 percent and rose to 40.6 percent in 2008. Another chart illustrates that the percentages of children born to married parents decreased from over 95 percent in 1930 to 59.4 percent in 2008. Still another chart shows that 71 percent of poor families with children are not married. Some people might think that these percentages are caused by sexually active teenagers - but they would be mostly wrong according to the chart that shows births to teenagers as 8.0 percent and all others ages at higher percentages. The statistic that I found most interesting is that "being married has roughly the same effect in reducing one's poverty as adding five to six years of education. On average, high school dropouts who are married have a far lower poverty rate than do single parents with one or two years of college." Rector wrote, "The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are: More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime; Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems; Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school; and A third more likely to drop out before completing high school." He continued, "The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families. Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation." He concluded, "Finally the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood." In 1963 President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty by trying to solve the problem with government programs and entitlements. The facts in these articles and charts show that marriage matters. Anyone who truly wants to wage war on poverty must teach the importance of marriage and the need to support marriage and families by enacting "policies that encourage people to form and maintain healthy marriage and delay childbearing until they are married." .