Marriage: North Carolina’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood PovertyHow the Collapse of Marriage Hurts Children and Three Steps to Reverse the Damage A Heritage Foundation Book of Charts • 2012 Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society
Growth of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in North Carolina, 1929–2010 Throughout most of North PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKCarolina’s history, out-of-wedlockchildbearing was rare. 50% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964, 42.0%only 10.3 percent of children in 40%North Carolina were born out ofwedlock. However, over the nextfour decades, the number roserapidly. By 2010, 42 percent of 30%births in North Carolina occurredoutside of marriage. 20%Note: Initiated by President LyndonJohnson in 1964, the War on Povertyled to the creation of more than three 10%dozen welfare programs to aid poorpersons. Government has spent $16.7trillion on means-tested aid to the poorsince 1964. 0%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. CensusBureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010Statistics. Chart 1 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Death of Marriage in North Carolina, 1929–2010 The marital birth rate — the PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN TO MARRIED COUPLESpercentage of all births that occurto married parents — is the ﬂip 100%side of the out-of-wedlock birthrate. Through most of the 20th cen- 90%tury, marital births were the normin North Carolina. In 1964, nearly90 percent of births occurred tomarried couples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 58 percent 70%of births in North Carolinaoccurred to married couples. 60%Note: In any given year, the sum of the 58.0%out-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1)and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 50%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. CensusBureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010Statistics. Chart 2 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
In North Carolina, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 82 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock childbearing is a major 50%cause of high levels of child pov-erty in North Carolina. Some 40.6 percent of single 40.6% 40%mothers with children are poorcompared to 7.2 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are nearly six times morelikely to be poor than families inwhich the parents are married. 20% The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due bothto the lower education levels of 10% 7.2%the mothers and the lower incomedue to the absence of the father. 0% Single-Parent, Married,Two-ParentSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Female-Headed FamiliesCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Families Chart 3 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
In North Carolina, One-Third of All Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in North Carolina. Overone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 35.3% Married Families 64.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
In North Carolina, 74 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in North Carolina, aboutthree-quarters are not married. Bycontrast, one-quarter of poorfamilies with children are headedby married couples. Married Families 26.5% Unmarried Families 73.5%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
In North Carolina, Few Unwed Births Occur to Teenagers Out-of-wedlock births are PERCENTAGE OF OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSoften confused erroneously with BY AGE OF MOTHERteen births, but only 8.4 percentof out-of-wedlock births in UnderNorth Carolina occur to girls Age 18:under age 18. 8.4% By contrast, some 76 percent Ageof out-of-wedlock births occur to 30–54:young adult women between the 16.0%ages of 18 and 29. Age 18–19: 15.5% Age 25–29: 22.3% Age 20–24: 37.8%Note: Figures have been rounded.Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Chart 6 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Less-Educated Women Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside of Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs most PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALfrequently among the women who OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwill have the greatest difﬁculty 100%supporting children by themselves: 8.1% Unmarriedthose with low levels of education. 90% Mothers In the U.S., among women who 42.0% 80%are high school dropouts, about65.2 percent of all births occur 54.5% 70%outside marriage. Among women 65.2%who have only a high school 60% Marrieddiploma, well over half of all births 91.9% 50% Mothersoccur outside marriage. By contrast,among women with at least a 40%college degree, only 8.1 percent of 58.0%births are out of wedlock. 30% 45.5% 20%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlock 34.8%births and maternal education are not 10%available in North Carolina. However, thepattern varies little between states. NorthCarolina data will be very similar to the 0%national data presented in this chart. High School High School Some College Mother’s Dropout Graduate College Graduate educationSource: U.S. Department of Health and (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ levelHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS data. Years) Years) Years) Years) Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in North Carolina The poverty rate of married PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES Poverty Rate of Families bycouples with children is dramati- WITH CHILDREN THAT Single Education and Marital Statuscally lower than the rate for house- ARE POOR Married of the Head of Householdholds headed by single parents. 70%This is true even when the marriedcouple is compared to single par- 61.2% 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in North Carolina, 50%the poverty rate for a single 42.6%mother who has only a high 40%school diploma is 42.6 percent, 33.2%but the poverty rate for a married 30% 26.5%couple family headed by an indi-vidual who, similarly, has only a 20%high school degree is far lower at 11.8%9.5 percent. 10% 9.5% 5.3% On average, marriage drops the 1.5%poverty rate by about 76 percent 0%among families with the same High School High School Some Collegeeducation level. Dropout Graduate College GraduateSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Note: Virtually none of the heads of families in the chart who are high schoolCommunity Survey, 2005–2009 data. dropouts are minor teenagers. Chart 8 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in North Carolina Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. In 2008, 42 percent of births in 100%North Carolina occurred outside 8.3% 90%marriage. The rate was lowestamong non-Hispanic whites at 80%about one in four births (26.7 72.4%percent). Among Hispanics, over 70%half of all births were out of wed-lock. Among blacks, more than 60%seven in ten births (72.4 percent) 53.2%were to unmarried women. 50% 42.0% 40% 30% 26.7% 20% 10%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 0%Human Services, Centers for Disease All Races White Hispanic BlackControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS Non- Non-data. Hispanic Hispanic Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in North Carolina, 1929–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhatmore frequent among blacks than 100%among whites. However, prior to 90%the onset of the federalgovernment’s War on Poverty in 80% Black Non-1964, the rates for both whitesand blacks were comparatively Hispaniclow. 70% 72.4% In 1964, around one in forty 60%(2.7 percent) white children were Hispanicborn outside marriage. By 2008, 50% 53.2%the number had risen to one infour (26.7 percent). 40% In 1964, about one in four black White Non- 30%children (26.7 percent) were born Hispanicoutside marriage. By 2008, the 26.7% 20%number had risen to more thanseven in ten (72.4 percent). 10% 0%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. CensusBureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008Statistics. Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin North Carolina ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS In North Carolina in 2008,some 55.1 percent of all birthsoccurred to non-Hispanic whites,23.8 percent occurred to non-Hispanic blacks, and 16.5 percentoccurred to Hispanics. 35.0% 55.1% White Non- Because blacks and Hispanics Hispanicare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionatelylarge share of all out-of-wedlockbirths. In North Carolina in 2008, 41 41.0%percent of all non-marital births Black Non-were to non-Hispanic black 23.8% Hispanicwomen, 35 percent were to whitenon-Hispanic women, and 20.9percent were to Hispanics. 16.5% Hispanic 20.9%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 4.6% Asian/Other 3.1%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likely to Be Poorin North Carolina Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 30% For example, in 2009, the pov-erty rate for married white families 24.9%in North Carolina was 3.6 percent. 25%But the poverty rate for non-married white families was seventimes higher at 24.9 percent. 20% 15% 10% 5% 3.6% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Six Times More Likely to Be Poorin North Carolina In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in NorthCarolina was 6.9 percent, while 40% 38.0%the poverty rate for non-marriedblack families was nearly six timeshigher at 38 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 6.9% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are More than Twice as Likelyto Be Poor in North Carolina In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in NorthCarolina was 20.7 percent, while 60%the poverty rate among non-married families was more thantwice as high at 44.8 percent. 50% 44.8% 40% 30% 20.7% 20% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in North Carolina heritage.org
Three Steps to Reduce Child Poverty through Marriage1) Provide information on the beneﬁts of marriage in reducing child poverty and improving child well-being. Marriage is a highly effective institution which greatly decreases parental and child poverty while improving long-term outcomes for children. Conversely, the absence of marriage greatly increases welfare costs and imposes added burdens on taxpayers. Unfortunately, almost no information on these topics is available in low-income communities. This information deﬁcit should be corrected in the following manner: • Explain the beneﬁts of marriage in middle and high schools with a high proportion of at-risk youth; • Create public education campaigns in low-income communities on the beneﬁts of marriage; and, • Require federally funded birth control clinics to provide information on the beneﬁts of marriage and the skills needed to develop stable families to interested low-income clients.2) Reduce anti-marriage penalties in means-tested welfare programs.3) Promote life-goal-planning, marriage-strengthening, and divorce-reduction programs to increase healthy marriages and reduce divorce and separation.
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