Marriage: Rhode Island’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 Rhode Island, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Rhode PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKIsland’s history, out-of-wedlockchildbearing was rare. 50% When the federal government’s 45.0%War on Poverty began in 1964,only 3.6 percent of children in 40%Rhode Island were born out ofwedlock. However, over the nextfour decades, the number roserapidly. By 2010, 45 percent of 30%births in Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Rhode Island, 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 normin Rhode Island. In 1964, about 97percent of births occurred tomarried couples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 55 percentof births in Rhode Island occurredto married couples. 60% 55.0%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1)and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 40%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 Rhode Island heritage.org
In Rhode Island, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 89 Percent The rapid rise in out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORchildbearing is a major cause of 40%high levels of child poverty in 35.8%Rhode Island. Some 35.8 percent of singlemothers with children are poor 30%compared to 4.1 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families withchildren are nearly nine times 20%more likely to be poor than fami-lies in which the parents are mar-ried. The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due both 10%to the lower education levels of 4.1%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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Over One-Third of All Families with Children in Rhode IslandAre Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in Rhode Island. Overone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 35.2% Married Families 64.8%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Rhode Island heritage.org
In Rhode Island, 80 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Rhode Island, overfour in ﬁve are not married. Bycontrast, only one in ﬁve poor Marriedfamilies with children are headed Familiesby married couples. 19.2% Unmarried Families 80.8%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Rhode Island heritage.org
In Rhode Island, 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 Rhode UnderIsland occur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 74 percent of 7.1%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 19.2% Age 18–19: 13.3% Age 25–29: 24.5% Age 20–24: 35.9%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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Less-Educated Women in Rhode Island Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs most PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALfrequently among the women who OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwill have the greatest difﬁculty sup- 100% Unmarriedporting children by themselves: those 8.1%with low levels of education. 90% Mothers In the U.S., among women who 42%are high school dropouts, about 65.2 80%percent of all births occur outside 54.5%marriage. Among women who have 70%only a high school diploma, well over 65.2%half of all births occur outside mar- 60%riage. By contrast, among women 50%with at least a college degree, only Married 91.9%8.1 percent of births are out of wed- 40% Motherslock. 58% 30%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlock 45.5%births and maternal education are not 20%available in Rhode Island. However, thepattern varies little between states. 34.8% 10%Rhode Island data will be very similar tothe national data presented in this 0%chart. 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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island, 50%the poverty rate for a single 41.6%mother who has only a high 40%school diploma is 41.6 percent,but the poverty rate for a married 30%couple family headed by an indi-vidual who, similarly, has only a 20.7% 20%high school degree is far lower at 14.3% 11.1%4.8 percent. 10% 4.8% 3.4% On average, marriage drops the 1.1%poverty rate by about 85 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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Rhode Island Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% In 2008, 43.9 percent of birthsin Rhode Island occurred outside 8.3% 70% 68%marriage. The rate was lowest 65.8%among non-Hispanic whites ataround one in three births (33.8 60%percent). Among Hispanics, nearlytwo-thirds of births were out of 50%wedlock. Among blacks, nearly 43.9%seven in ten births were to unmar-ried women (68 percent) 40% 33.8% 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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Rhode Island, 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 to Black Non-the onset of the federal 70% Hispanicgovernment’s War on Poverty in 68.0%1964, the rates for both whites andblacks were comparatively low. 60% Hispanic 65.8% In 1964, less than one in thirty(2.9 percent) white children was 50%born outside marriage. By 2008,the number had risen to over one 40%in three (33.8 percent). White Non- In 1964, around one in ﬁve 30% Hispanicblack children (19.4 percent) were 33.8%born outside marriage. By 2008, 20%the number had risen to nearlyseven in ten (68 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 Rhode Island heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin Rhode Island In Rhode Island in 2008, some ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS49.8 percent of all births occurredto non-Hispanic whites, 21.6percent occurred to Hispanics, and8.4 percent occurred to non-Hispanic blacks 38.3% Because blacks and Hispanics 49.8% White Non-are more likely to have children Hispanicwithout being married, theyaccount for disproportionatelylarger shares of all out-of-wedlockbirths. Even so, the largest numberof unwed births are to white non-Hispanic women. 32.5% 21.6% Hispanic In Rhode Island in 2008, 38.3percent of all non-marital birthswere to non-Hispanic whites, 32.5percent were to Hispanics, and 13 20.2% Asian/Other 16.2%percent were to black non-Hispanic women. 8.4% Black Non- 13%Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for Disease HispanicControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Rhode Island heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Eight Times More Likely to Be Poorin Rhode Island Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 20% For example, in 2009, the pov-erty rate for married white families 17.1%in Rhode Island was 2.2 percent.But the poverty rate for non- 15%married white families was nearlyeight times higher at 17.1 percent. 10% 5% 2.2% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Rhode Island heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Three Times More Likely to Be Poorin Rhode Island In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in RhodeIsland was 11.1 percent, while the 40%poverty rate for non-married black 35.3%families was three times higher at35.3 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 11.1% 10% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Rhode Island heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Nearly Five Times More Likely to BePoor in Rhode Island In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inRhode Island was 10.9 percent, 60%while the poverty rate amongnon-married families was about 51.5%ﬁve times higher at 51.5 percent. 50% 40% 30% 20% 10.9% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Rhode Island 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.
The Family & Religion Initiative is one of 10 Transformational Initiatives making up The HeritageFoundation’s Leadership for America campaign. For more products and information related to this initiativeor to learn more about the Leadership for America campaign, please visit heritage.org. The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is toformulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited gov-ernment, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Our vision is to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society ﬂourish. Asconservatives, we believe the values and ideas that motivated our Founding Fathers are worth conserving.As policy entrepreneurs, we believe the most effective solutions are consistent with those ideas and values. 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE • Washington, D.C. 20002 • (202) 546-4400 • heritage.org
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.