Marriage:Oklahoma’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 Oklahoma, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Oklahoma’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 50% In 1968, shortly after the federal Oklahoma 41.8%government began the War onPoverty, only 8.3 percent of chil- 40% 40.8%dren in Oklahoma were born Nationaloutside marriage. However, overthe next four decades, the numberrose rapidly. By 2010, 58.2 percent 30%of births in Oklahoma occurredoutside of marriage. OklahomaNote: Data on non-marital births in 20% NationalOklahoma are unavailable between1948 and 1967. However, all states thatdo have data for this period show arapid growth in non-marital childbear- 10%ing from the mid-1960s on.The Okla-homa trend during this periodundoubtedly parallels the national trendshown in the chart. 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 Oklahoma heritage.org
In Oklahoma, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 80 Percent The rapid rise in out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORchildbearing is a major cause of 50%high levels of child poverty in 44.7%Oklahoma. Some 44.7 percent of single 40%mothers with children are poorcompared to 8.8 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are more than ﬁve timesmore likely to be poor than fami-lies in which the parents are mar- 20%ried. The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due both 8.8% 10%to the lower education levels ofthe 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 2 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Over One-Third of All Families with Children in OklahomaAre Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in Oklahoma. Well overone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 34.3% Married Families 65.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 3 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
In Oklahoma, 70 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Oklahoma, seven inten are not married. By contrast,only 30.3 percent of poor familieswith children are headed by Marriedmarried couples. Families 30.3% Unmarried Families 69.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
In Oklahoma, Few Unwed Births Occur to Teenagers Out-of-wedlock births are often PERCENTAGE OF OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSconfused erroneously with teen BY AGE OF MOTHERbirths, but only 9.5 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Okla- Underhoma occur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 78 percent of 9.5%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 12.2% Age 18–19: 17.3% Age 25–29: 21% Age 20–24: 40%Note: Figures have been rounded.Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Less Educated Women Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside of Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALmost frequently among the OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwomen who will have the greatest 100%difﬁculty supporting children by 8.1% Unmarriedthemselves: those with low levels 90% Mothersof education. 42.0% 80% In the U.S., among women who 54.5%are high school dropouts, about 70% Married65.2 percent of all births occur 65.2% 91.8% Mothersoutside marriage. Among women 60%who have only a high schooldiploma, well over half of all births 50%occur outside marriage. By con- 40%trast, among women with at least a 580%college degree, only 8.1 percent of 30%births are out of wedlock. 45.5% 20%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlockbirths and maternal education are not 34.8% 10%available in Oklahoma. However, thepattern varies little between states. 0%Oklahoma data will be very similar tothe 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 Disease Years) Years) Years) Years)Control and Prevention, 2008 NHS data. Chart 6 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in Reducing ChildPoverty in Oklahoma 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- 61.0% 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in Oklahoma, the 50% 47.9%poverty rate for a single motherwho has only a high school 40% 35.9%diploma is 47.9 percent, but thepoverty rate for a married couple 30% 27.6%family headed by an individualwho, similarly, has only a high 20%school degree is far lower at 10.6% 11.3%10.6 percent. 10% 7.9% On average, marriage drops the 2.0%poverty rate by around 80 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 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Oklahoma Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% 75.7% In 2008 (the most recent yearfor which racial breakdown is 8.3%available), more than one in four 70%births (42.3 percent) in Oklahomaoccurred outside marriage. The 60% 57.3%rate was lowest among non-Hispanic whites at over one in 49% 50%three births (34.4 percent). Among 42.3%Hispanics, nearly half of birthswere out of wedlock. Among 40% 34.4%American Indians, nearly six inten (57.3 percent) births were out 30%of wedlock. Among blacks, threein four births were to unmarried 20%women (75.7 percent). 10% 0%Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for Disease All Races White Hispanic American BlackControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS Non- Indian Non-data. Hispanic Hispanic Chart 8 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Oklahoma, 1935–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhat 80% Oklahoma–more frequent among blacks than Black 75.7%among whites. However, prior tothe onset of the federal 70% National–government’s War on Poverty in Black 72.3%the 1960s, the rates for both 60%whites and blacks were compara-tively low. In 1968, 5.3 percent of white 50%children in Oklahoma were bornoutside marriage. By 2008, the 40% Oklahoma–number had risen to more than White 34.4%one in three (34.4 percent). 30% National– In 1970, about one-third (34.6 White 28.6%percent) of black children in Okla- 20%homa were born outside marriage.By 2008, the number had risen toabout seven in every ten (70.2 10%percent). 0%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. Census 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008Bureau, and National Center for HealthStatistics. Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin Oklahoma In Oklahoma in 2008, some 64.2 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred tonon-Hispanic whites, 12.9 percentoccurred to Hispanics, 11.5 percentoccurred to American Indians, and9.1 percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks. Because blacks, Hispanics, and 64.2% White Non- 52.2%American Indians are more likely to Hispanichave children without being married,they account for disproportionatelylarger shares of all out-of-wedlockbirths. Even so, the largest number ofunwed births were to white non-Hispanic women. 15% In Oklahoma in 2008, 52.2 percent Americanof all non-marital births were to 12.9% Indiannon-Hispanic whites, 16.2 percent 15.6%were to black non-Hispanic women, Hispanic15.6 percent were to American 11.5%Indians, and 15 percent were toHispanic women. Black Non- 16.2% 9.1% HispanicSource: U.S. Department of Health and Asian/Other 2.3% 1%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS data Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likely to Be Poorin Oklahoma Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, AmericanIndians, and Hispanics. 29.8% 30% For example, in 2009, the pov-erty rate for married white familiesin Oklahoma was 4.5 percent. But 25%the poverty rate for non-marriedwhite families was nearly seventimes higher at 29.8 percent. 20% 15% 10% 4.5% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Nearly Six Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Oklahoma In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Okla-homa was 7.8 percent, while the 50%poverty rate for non-married blackfamilies was nearly six times 43.4%higher at 43.4 percent. 40% 30% 20% 7.8% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Three Times More Likely to Be Poorin Oklahoma In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in Okla-homa was 18.3 percent, while the 60% 55.5%poverty rate among non-marriedfamilies was more than three timeshigher at 55.5 percent. 50% 40% 30% 18.3% 20% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma heritage.org
Non-Married American Indian Families Are Four Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Oklahoma In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORAmerican Indian married familiesin Oklahoma was 9 percent, while 38.5% 40%the poverty rate among non-married families was more thanfour times higher at 38.5 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 9% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Oklahoma 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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