Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals understand the connection between family life and the economy. I have seen numerous bits of information stating that marriage improves the economic situation of couples. Numerous years ago, I read an article by economist Walter Williams telling black youth how to become successful. He told them to graduate from high school, get married before having children, and stay married. Tonight, I read another article about the connection between economics and family life.
Star Parker began her article by explaining that people generally assume that “economic policy and social policy are separate universes” when discussing public policy. She said that economic policy includes such topics as “taxes, government spending, business, jobs, etc.” while social policy is about “marriage, family, children, abortion, etc.” She concluded that there is evidence that there is no “line” between economic policy and social policy and that family structure “has gotten increasing attention as an important factor to consider in policy discussions about poverty.”
Parker quoted an academic paper titled “Family Formation and Crime” that “examines the connection between the incidence of pregnancy, childbirth, and marriage, and the incidence of crime. The authors – Maxim Massenkoff and Evan Rose – conclude that there is a connection that should be understood by policy planners.
The conclusion, in the words of the authors: “Our event-study analysis indicates that pregnancy triggers sharp declines in crime rivaling any known intervention. For mothers, criminal offending drops precipitously in the first few months of pregnancy, stabilizing at half of pre-pregnancy levels three years after the birth. Men show a smaller, but still important 25 percent decline beginning at the onset of pregnancy, although domestic violence arrests spike for fathers immediately after birth.”
Parker asked an important question: “What is it about birth and marriage that contributes significantly to reducing crime?” She quoted an expert who said it was about “socializing and civilizing both men and women.” However, Parker speculated that it is “a wake-up call” that helps men and women see life through different lenses. When people see “the awe and mystery of life” they gain “a sense of meaning and personal responsibility.”
I agree with Parker in that we should “be concerned about the decline in Americans’ sense of importance of marriage and children.” She quoted a survey from Pew Research Center that said “57% of men and 46% of women” believe that we can have a “fulfilling life” as long as we have a “job or career” we enjoy. These numbers compare to “16% of men and 17% of women” who believe children are “essential for a … fulfilling life.”
Parker concluded that “Americans are saying work is three times more important for a fulfilling life than marriage and children.” Because pregnancy and marriage cause a drop in crime, public policies should be encouraging marriage and families. We can help to strengthen all families, communities, and nations by showing the importance of marriage and family life in combatting crime.