Marriage: Texas’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 Texas, 1933–2010 Throughout most of Texas’ PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlockchildbearing was rare. 50% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964, 42.4%only 6.4 percent of children in 40%Texas were born out of wedlock.However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly.By 2010, 42.4 percent of births in 30%Texas occurred outside ofmarriage. 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 Texas heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Texas, 1933–2010 The marital birth rate — the PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN TO MARRIED COUPLESpercentage of all births that occurto married parents — is the ﬂip 100%side of the out-of-wedlock birthrate. Through most of the 20th cen- 90%tury, marital births were the normin Texas. In 1964, 93.6 percent ofbirths occurred to marriedcouples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 57.6 per- 70%cent of births in Texas occurred tomarried couples. 60%Note: In any given year, the sum of the 57.6%out-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1)and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 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 Texas heritage.org
In Texas, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 74 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 inTexas. Some 40.5 percent of single 40.5% 40%mothers with children were poorcompared to 10.6 percent ofmarried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are nearly four timesmore likely to be poor thanfamilies in which the parents are 20%married. The higher poverty rate among 10.6%single-mother families is due both 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 3 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas heritage.org
In Texas, One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headtwo-thirds of families withchildren in Texas. One-third aresingle-parent families. Unmarried Families 33.2% Married Families 66.8%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas heritage.org
In Texas, 63 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Texas, about six in tenare not married. By contrast,37.4% of poor families withchildren are headed by marriedcouples. Married Families 37.4% Unmarried Families 62.6%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas heritage.org
In Texas, 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 10.7 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Texas Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 74 percent of 10.7%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 15.2% Age 18–19: Age 16.3% 25–29: 20.8% Age 20–24: 37.0%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 Texas 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% 7.2% Unmarrieddifﬁculty supporting children by 90% Mothersthemselves: those with low levelsof education. 36.4% 80% In Texas among women who are 52.9%high school dropouts, about 60 70% 59.9%percent of all births occur outside 60%marriage. Among women who 92.8% Marriedhave only a high school diploma, 50% Mothersabout 53 percent of all birthsoccur outside marriage. By con- 40% 63.6%trast, among women with at least a 30%college degree, only 7.2 percent of 47.1%births are out of wedlock. 20% 40.1% 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 Texas heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Texas 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- 61.4% 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in Texas, the pov- 50%erty rate for a single mother who 42.0%has only a high school diploma is 40%42 percent, but the poverty rate fora married couple family headed by 30.5% 29.5% 30%an individual who, similarly, hasonly a high school degree is far 20%lower at 13.1 percent. 13.1% 11.0% On average, marriage drops the 10% 6.0%poverty rate by about 69 percent 2.5%among families with the same 0%education level. High School High School Some College 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 Texas heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Texas Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% In 2008, 41.7 percent of birthsin Texas occurred outside mar- 8.3%riage. The rate was lowest among 70% 66.5%non-Hispanic whites at about onein four births (26.7 percent). 60%Among Hispanics, about half ofbirths were out-of-wedlock. 49.0% 50%Among blacks, about two-thirds ofbirths were to unmarried women 41.7%(66.5 percent). 40% 30% 26.7% 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 Texas heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Texas, 1933–2008 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 66.5%1964, the rates for both whites and 60%blacks were comparatively low. In 1964, about one in thirty (3.4 Hispanic 50%percent) white children were born 49.0%outside marriage. By 2008, thenumber had risen to about one in 40%four (26.7 percent). In 1964, more than one in ﬁve 30% White Non-black children (22.1 percent) were Hispanicborn outside marriage. By 2008, 26.7% 20%the number had risen to over twoin three (66.5 percent). 10% 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 Texas heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Texas In Texas in 2008, some 50.1 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred toHispanics, 34.4 percent occurredto non-Hispanic whites, and 11.3percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks. Because blacks and Hispanicsare more likely to have children 50.1% Hispanic 58.7%without being married, theyaccount for a disproportionatelylarger share of all out-of-wedlockbirths. In Texas in 2008, 58.7 percent ofall non-marital births were toHispanics, 22 percent were towhite non-Hispanic women, and 34.4% White Non- 22.0%18.1 percent were to non-Hispanic Hispanicblacks. Black Non- 11.3% 18.1% HispanicSource: U.S. Department of Health and 4.2% Asian/Other 1.2%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Texas Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, andHispanics in Texas. 25% For example, in 2009, thepoverty rate for married white 20.4%families in Texas was 2.8 percent.But the poverty rate for 20%non-married white families wasmore than seven times higher at20.4 percent. 15% 10% 5% 2.8% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Five Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Texas In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Texaswas 7.1 percent, while the poverty 40%rate for non-married black familieswas nearly ﬁve times higher at 34.5%34.5 percent. 30% 20% 10% 7.1% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are About Three Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Texas In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in Texaswas 16.5 percent, while the 50%poverty rate among non-marriedfamilies was about three times 42.8%higher at 42.8 percent. 40% 30% 20% 16.5% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Texas 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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