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Marriage and Poverty in the United States
 

Marriage and Poverty in the United States

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Charts how marriage reduces poverty in every state -- and proposes seven steps to make the most of marriage as “America’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty.”

Charts how marriage reduces poverty in every state -- and proposes seven steps to make the most of marriage as “America’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty.”

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    Marriage and Poverty in the United States Marriage and Poverty in the United States Presentation Transcript

    • Marriage: America’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty How the Collapse of Marriage Hurts the Nation and 7 Steps to Reverse the Damage A Heritage Foundation Book of Charts Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society • Fall 2010
    • Growth of Unwed Childbearing in the U.S., 1929–2008 Throughout most of U.S. PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK history, unwed childbearing was rare. 50% When the federal government's War on Poverty began in 1964, 40.6% only 6.3 percent of children in the 40% U.S. were born out of wedlock. However, over the next four decades, the number rose rapidly. By 2008, four out of 10 births 30% occurred outside of marriage. 20% Note: Initiated by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the War on Poverty led to the creation of more than three dozen welfare programs to aid poor 10% persons.The government has spent $16.7 trillion on means-tested aid to the poor since 1963. Source: U.S. Government, U.S. Census 0% Bureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008 Statistics. Chart 1 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Death of Marriage in the U.S., 1929–2008 The marital birth rate—the PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN TO MARRIED COUPLES percentage of all births that occur to 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 in the U.S. In 1963, more than 93 percent of births occurred to married couples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s, the marital birth rate began to fall steadily. By 2008, only 59 percent of births in the U.S. occurred to married couples. 60% 59.4% Note: In any given year, the sum of the out-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1) and the marital birth rate (Chart 2) equals 100 percent of all births. Source: U.S. Government, U.S. Census 40% Bureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008 Statistics. Chart 2 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Poverty by 82 Percent The steady rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POOR wedlock child bearing is a major cause of high levels of child pov- 50% erty in the U.S. In 2008, more than a third (36.5 percent) of single mothers with children were poor, compared to 40% 36.5% only 6.4 percent of married couples with children. Single-parent families with 30% children are almost six times more likely to be poor than are married couples. 20% The higher poverty rate among single-mother families is due both to the lower education levels of 10% the mothers and the lower income 6.4% because of the absence of the fathers. 0% Single Parent, Married,Two-Parent Female-Headed Families Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Families Community Survey, 2006–2008 data. Chart 3 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples head 100% roughly two-thirds of families with children in the U.S. The other 90% third are single-parent families. 33% Unmarried 80% Families 70% 60% 50% 40% 67% Married Families 30% 20% 10% Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American 0% Community Survey, 2006–2008 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • 71 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Nearly three-quarters of families 100% with children in the U.S. that are not poor are married couples. 90% 26% By contrast, 71 percent of all poor families with children are 80% headed by single parents. 70% 71.2% Unmarried 60% Families 50% 40% 74% 30% 20% 26.8% Married 10% Families 0% Non-Poor Poor Families Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Families Community Survey, 2006–2008 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Few Unwed Births Occur to Teenagers Out-of-wedlock births are often PERCENTAGE OF OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS confused erroneously with teen BY AGE OF MOTHER births, but only 8 percent of out- of-wedlock births in the U.S. occur Under to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some three out of 7.7% four unwed births occur to young Age adult women between the ages of 30–54: 18 and 29. 17.7% Age 18–19: 14.5% Age 25–29: 23.0% Age 20–24: 37.1% Note: Figures have been rounded. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006 NHS data. Chart 6 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Less-Educated Women Are More Likely to Give Birth Outside Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITAL most frequently among the OR OUT OF WEDLOCK women who will have the greatest 100% Unmarried difficulty supporting children by 8.3% Mothers themselves: those with low levels 90% of education. 80% 34.0% Among women who are high school dropouts, more than two- 51.4% 70% thirds of all births occur outside 67.4% marriage. Among women who 60% have only a high school diploma, slightly more than half of all births 50% 91.7% Married occur outside marriage. By con- Mothers 40% trast, among women with at least a 66.0% college degree, only 8 percent of 30% births are out-of-wedlock. 48.6% 20% 32.6% 10% 0% Source: U.S. Department of Health and High School High School Some College Mother’s Human Services, Centers for Disease Dropout Graduate College Graduate education Control and Prevention, 2006 NHS (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ level data. Years) Years) Years) Years) Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in Reducing Child Poverty in the United States The poverty rate for married PERCENTAGE OF Poverty Rate of Families by couples is dramatically lower than FAMILIES THAT Single Education and Marital Status the rate for households headed by ARE POOR Married of the Head of Household single parents. This is true even 50% 47% when the married couple is com- pared to single parents with the same education level. 40% For example, in the U.S., the poverty rate for a single mother 31.7% who has only a high school 30% diploma is 31.7 percent, but the 24.2% poverty rate for a married couple 20% family headed by an individual 15.2% who, similarly, has only a high school degree is far lower at 5.6 10% 8.9% percent. 5.6% 3.2% 1.5% On average, marriage drops the poverty rate by around 80 percent 0% among families with the same High School High School Some College education level. Dropout Graduate College Graduate Note: Virtually none of the heads of families in the chart who are high school drop- Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American outs are minor teenagers. Community Survey 2006-2008 data. Chart 8 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCK varies considerably by race. 80% In 2006 (the most recent year 8.3% 71.6% for which racial breakdown is available), nearly four in 10 births 70% (39.7 percent) in the U.S. occurred outside marriage. The unwed birth 60% rate was lowest among non- 51.3% Hispanic whites, at just over one 50% in four births (27.8 percent). Among Hispanics, more than half 39.7% of births were out-of-wedlock. 40% Among blacks, seven out of 10 births were to unmarried women 30% 27.8% (71.6 percent). 20% 10% 0% Source: U.S. Department of Health and All Races White Hispanic Black Human Services, Centers for Disease Non- Non- Control and Prevention, 2006 NHS Hispanic Hispanic data. Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race, 1929–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK childbearing has been somewhat more frequent among blacks than 80% among whites. However, before Black Non- the onset of the federal govern- Hispanic 70% ment's War on Poverty in 1964, 72.3% the rates for both whites and blacks were comparatively low. 60% Hispanic In 1963, not even one in 10 (3.1 52.5% percent) white children was born 50% outside marriage. By 2008, the number had risen to more than 40% one in four (28.6 percent). In 1963, about one in four black 30% White Non- children (24.2 percent) was born Hispanic outside marriage. By 2008, the 28.6% 20% number had risen to nearly three in every four (72.3 percent). 10% 0% Source: U.S. Government, U.S. Census Bureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008 Statistics. Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in the U.S. In the U.S. in 2006, some 53.5 percent of all births occurred to ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS non-Hispanic whites; 24.4 percent occurred to Hispanics, and 14.7 percent occurred to non-Hispanic blacks. 36.8% Because blacks and Hispanics White Non- are more likely to have children 53.5% Hispanic without being married, they account for a disproportionately large share of all out-of-wedlock births. Even so, the largest number of unwed births are to white non- 30.9% Hispanic women. Hispanic In the U.S. in 2006, 37 percent 24.4% of all non-marital births were to non-Hispanic whites; 31 percent were to Hispanics, and 26 percent 25.6% Black Non- were to black non-Hispanic 14.7% Hispanic women. Source: U.S. Department of Health and 7.2% Asian/Other 8.5% Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006 NHS data. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likely to Be Poor Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POOR rates for whites, blacks, and His- panics. 25% For example, in 2006, the pov- 21.7% erty rate for married white families was 3.1 percent. But the poverty rate for non-married white fami- 20% lies was seven times higher at 21.7 percent. 15% 10% 5% 3.1% 0% Married Families Non-Married Families Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2006–2008 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Non-Married Black Families Are Five Times More Likely to Be Poor In 2006, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POOR black married black couples was 6.9 percent, while the poverty rate 40% for non-married black families was more than five times higher at 35.3% 35.3 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 6.9% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married Families Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2006–2008 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Nearly Three Times More Likely to Be Poor In 2006, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POOR Hispanic married families was 12.8 percent, while the poverty 40% 37.5% rate among non-married families was nearly three times higher at 37.5 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 12.8% 10% 5% 0% Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Married Families Non-Married Families Community Survey, 2006–2008 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in the U.S. heritage.org
    • 7 Steps to Reduce Child Poverty through Marriage Given the importance of marriage in reducing child poverty, the following steps should be undertaken to strengthen marriage in low income communities. 1) Reduce anti-marriage penalties in welfare programs. 2) Create public education campaigns in low-income communities on the benefits of marriage. 3) Require welfare offices to provide factual information on the value of marriage in reducing poverty and welfare dependence. 4) Explain the benefits of marriage in middle and high schools with a high proportion of at-risk youth. 5) 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. 6) Require federally funded birth control clinics to offer voluntary referrals to life planning and marriage skills education to all interested low-income clients. 7) Make voluntary marriage education widely available to interested couples in low- income communities.
    • The Family & Religion Initiative is one of 10 Transformational Initiatives making up The Heritage Foundation’s Leadership for America campaign. For more products and information related to this initiative or 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 to formulate 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. As conservatives, 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