Marriage: Oregon’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 Oregon, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Oregon’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 40% When the federal government’s 35% 35.7%War on Poverty began in 1964,only 5 percent of children inOregon were born out of wedlock. 30%However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly.By 2010, 35.7 percent of births in 25%Oregon occurred outside of mar-riage. 20% 15%Note: Initiated by President LyndonJohnson in 1964, the War on Poverty 10%led to the creation of more than threedozen welfare programs to aid poorpersons. Government has spent $16.7 5%trillion 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 Oregon heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Oregon, 1934–2010 The marital birth rate—the PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN TO MARRIED COUPLESpercentage of all births that occurto married parents—is the ﬂip side 100%of the out-of-wedlock birth rate. Through most of the 20th cen-tury, marital births were the normin Oregon. In 1964, nearly 95 90%percent of births occurred tomarried couples. However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 64.3 per- 80%cent of births in Oregon occurredto married couples. 70%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1) 64.3%and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 60%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 Oregon heritage.org
In Oregon, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 82 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 inOregon. Some 38.1 percent of single 38.1% 40%mothers with children are poorcompared to 6.7 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% 6.7%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 Oregon heritage.org
One-Third of All Families with Children in Oregon Are Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in Oregon. Aboutone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 31.3% Married Families 68.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
In Oregon, 70 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Oregon, about seven inten are not married. By contrast,30.5 percent of poor families withchildren are headed by marriedcouples. Married Families 30.5% Unmarried Families 69.5%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
In Oregon, 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 7.2 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Oregon Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 75 percent of 7.2%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 18.3% Age 18–19: 14.1% Age 25–29: 23.6% Age 20–24: 36.8%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 Oregon heritage.org
Less-Educated Women in Oregon Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALmost frequently among the OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwomen who will have the greatest 100% 7.3% Unmarrieddifﬁculty supporting children by Mothersthemselves: those with low levels 90%of education. 31.4% 80% In Oregon among women who 49.3%are high school dropouts, about 70% 60.6%60.6 percent of all births occur 60%outside marriage. Among womenwho have only a high school 50% Marrieddiploma, about half of all births 92.7% 40% Mothersoccur outside marriage. By con- 68.6%trast, among women with at least a 30%college degree, only 7.3 percent of 50.7%births are out of wedlock. 20% 39.4% 10% 0% High School High School Some College Mother’sSource: U.S. Department of Health and Dropout Graduate College Graduate educationHuman Services, Centers for Disease (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ levelControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Years) Years) Years) Years) Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Oregon 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- 60% 59.2%ents with the same education level. For example, in Oregon, the 50%poverty rate for a single motherwho has only a high school 40% 39.9%diploma is 39.9 percent, but the 32.5%poverty rate for a married couple 30%family headed by an individual 21.7%who, similarly, has only a high 20%school degree is far lower at 12.4%8.3 percent. 10% 8.3% 5.0% On average, marriage drops the 2.5%poverty rate by about 77 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 Oregon heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Oregon Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 70% In 2008, 36.1 percent of birthsin Oregon occurred outside mar- 8.3% 63.2%riage. The rate was lowest among 60%non-Hispanic whites at aroundone in three births (32 percent). 49%Among Hispanics, nearly half of 50%births were out of wedlock.Among blacks, over six in ten 40% 36.1%births were to unmarried women(63.2 percent). 32% 30% 20% 10% 0%Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for Disease All Races White Hispanic BlackControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS Non- Non-data. Hispanic Hispanic Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Oregon, 1934–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhatmore frequent among blacks than 80%among whites. However, prior tothe onset of the federal 70% Black Non-government’s War on Poverty in Hispanic1964, the rates for both whites and 63.2%blacks were comparatively low. 60% In 1964, around one in twenty Hispanic(4.6 percent) white children were 50% 49.0%born outside marriage. By 2008,the number had risen to nearly 40%one in three (32 percent). White Non- In 1964, less than one in six 30% Hispanicblack children (15.8 percent) were 32.0%born outside marriage. By 2008, 20%the number had risen to over sixin ten (63.2 percent). 10% 0%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. Census 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008Bureau, and National Center for HealthStatistics. Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Oregon In Oregon in 2008, some 69.4 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred tonon-Hispanic whites, 21.1 percentoccurred to Hispanics, and 2.5percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks. Because blacks and Hispanicsare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, they 69.4% White Non- 61.5%account for disproportionately Hispaniclarger shares of all out-of-wedlockbirths. Even so, the largest numberof unwed births in Oregon are towhite non-Hispanic women. In Oregon in 2008, 61.5 percentof all non-marital births were tonon-Hispanic whites, 28.7 percent 28.7%were to Hispanics, and 4.3 percent 21.1% Black Non-were to black non-Hispanic Hispanicwomen. 7% Asian/Other 5.5% HispanicSource: U.S. Department of Health and 2.5% 4.3%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likely to Be Poorin Oregon 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 25.5%in Oregon was 3.8 percent. But the 25%poverty rate for non-married whitefamilies was nearly seven timeshigher at 25.5 percent. 20% 15% 10% 5% 3.8% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Six Times More Likely to Be Poorin Oregon In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Oregonwas 6.8 percent, while the poverty 50%rate for non-married black familieswas six times higher at 41.4 per-cent. 41.4% 40% 30% 20% 10% 6.8% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Nearly Four Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Oregon In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inOregon was 13.4 percent, while 40% 50.2%the poverty rate among non-married families was about fourtimes higher at 50.2 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 13.4% 10% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Oregon 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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