Marriage: Pennsylvania’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 Pennsylvania, 1929–2010 Throughout most of PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKPennsylvania’s history, out-of-wedlock childbearing was rare. 50% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964,only 5.9 percent of children in 41.7% 40%Pennsylvania were born out ofwedlock. However, over the nextfour decades, the number roserapidly. By 2010, over four in ten 30%births in Pennsylvania occurredoutside of marriage.Note: Initiated by President Lyndon 20%Johnson in 1963, the War on Povertyled to the creation of more than threedozen welfare programs to aid poorpersons. Government has spent $16.7 10%trillion on means-tested aid to the poorsince 1964.No data is available for 1949. 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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Pennsylvania 1929–2010 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 norm 90%in Pennsylvania. In 1964, morethan 94 percent of births occurredto married couples. However, in the mid-1960s, the 80%marital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 58.3 per-cent of births in Pennsylvaniaoccurred to married couples. 70%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1) 60%and the marital birth rate (Chart 2) 58.3%equals 100 percent of all births.No data is available for 1949. 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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
In Pennsylvania, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 87 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock childbearing is a major 40%cause of high levels of childpoverty in Pennsylvania. 37.1% Some 37.1 percent of singlemothers with children were 30%poor compared to 4.8 percent ofmarried couples with children. Single-parent families withchildren are nearly eight times 20%more likely to be poor thanfamilies in which the parents aremarried. The higher poverty rate 10%among single-mother families is 4.8%due both to the lower educationlevels of the mothers and thelower income due to theabsence 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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
In Pennsylvania, One-Third of All Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Overall, married couples headtwo-thirds of families withchildren in Pennsylvania.One-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 32.7% Married Families 67.3%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania heritage.org
In Pennsylvania, 77 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Pennsylvania, 77percent are not married. Bycontrast, less than one-quarter ofpoor families with children are Marriedheaded by married couples. Families 23.1% Unmarried Families 76.9%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania heritage.org
In Pennsylvania, 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 7.1 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Pennsyl- Undervania occur to girls under age 18. Age 18: 7.1% By contrast, some 76 percent ofout-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 16.7% Age 18–19: 14.3% Age 25–29: 23.2% Age 20–24: 38.7%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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
Less-Educated Women in Pennsylvania 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% 8.1% Unmarrieddifﬁculty supporting children by Mothersthemselves: those with low levels 90%of education. 80% 42.0% In Pennsylvania, among womenwho are high school dropouts, 70% 60.7%about 69.1 percent of all births 60% 69.1%occur outside marriage. Amongwomen who have only a high 50% 91.9% Marriedschool diploma, 60.7 percent of all Mothersbirths occur outside marriage. By 40%contrast, among women with at 30% 58.0%least a college degree, only 8.1percent of births are out of wed- 20% 39.3%lock. 30.9% 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 NHS Years) Years) Years) Years)data. Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Pennsylvania 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 married 63.4%couple is compared to single par- 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in Pennsylvania, 50%the poverty rate for a singlemother who has only a high 40% 38.3%school diploma is 38.3 percent,but the poverty rate for a married 30% 28.4%couple family headed by an indi-vidual who, similarly, has only a 20% 19.3%high school degree is far lower at6.9 percent. 10% 9.4% 6.9% On average, marriage drops the 3.7% 1.4%poverty rate by around 81 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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Pennsylvania Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 90% In 2008, more than four in en(40.8 percent) births in Pennsylva- 8.3% 80% 78.0%nia occurred outside marriage.The rate was lowest among non-Hispanic whites at over three in 70% 66.4%ten births (30.9 percent). AmongHispanics, two-thirds of births 60%were out-of-wedlock. Amongblacks, nearly eight out of ten 50%births were to unmarried women 40.8%(78 percent). 40% 30.9% 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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Pennsylvania, 1934–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhatmore frequent among blacks than 90%among whites. However, prior to Black Non-the onset of the federal 80% Hispanicgovernment’s War on Poverty in 78.0%1964, the rates for both whites and 70% Hispanicblacks were comparatively low. 66.4% In 1964, around one in thirty 60%(3.2 percent) white children wereborn outside marriage. By 2008, 50%the number had risen to three inten (30.9 percent). 40% In 1964, only one in four black White Non-children (26.8 percent) were born 30% Hispanicoutside marriage. By 2008, the 30.9%number had risen to over three in 20%four (78 percent). 10%Note: No data is available for 1949. 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 Pennsylvania heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin Pennsylvania In Pennsylvania in 2008, some ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS70.9 percent of all births occurredto non-Hispanic whites, 14.5percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks, and 9.4 percent occurredto Hispanics. Because blacks and Hispanicsare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, they 70.9% White Non- 53.7%account for a disproportionately Hispaniclarge share of all out-of-wedlockbirths. Even so, the largest numberof unwed births are to white non-Hispanic women. In Pennsylvania in 2008, 53.7percent of all non-marital births 27.7%were to non-Hispanic whites, 27.7 Black Non-percent were to black non- 14.5% HispanicHispanic women, and 15.2 percentwere to Hispanics. 9.4% Hispanic 15.2%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 5.2% Asian/Other 3.4%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likely to Be Poorin Pennsylvania Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics in Pennsylvania. 25% For example, in 2009, the pov-erty rate for married white families 21.3%in Pennsylvania was 2.9 percent.But the poverty rate for non- 20%married white families was overseven times higher at 21.3 percent. 15% 10% 5% 2.9% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Four Times More Likely to Be Poorin Pennsylvania In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples inPennsylvania was 8.2 percent, 40%while the poverty rate for non- 35.7%married black families was fourtimes higher at 35.7 percent. 30% 20% 10% 8.2% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007– 2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Three Times More Likely to Be Poorin Pennsylvania In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inPennsylvania was 14 percent, 60%while the poverty rate amongnon-married families was wellover three times higher at 50 50.0% 50%percent. 40% 30% 20% 14.0% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Pennsylvania 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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