Marriage: Florida’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 Florida, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Florida’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 50% 47.5% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964,only 10.9 percent of children in 40%Florida were born out of wedlock.However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly.By 2010, 47.5 percent of births in 30%Florida occurred outside of mar-riage. 20%Note: Initiated by President LyndonJohnson in 1963, 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 Florida heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Florida, 1929–2010 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 90%century, marital births were thenorm in Florida. In 1964, morethan 89 percent of births occurredto married couples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 52.5 per-cent of births in Florida occurred 70%to married couples. 60%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. 52.5% 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 Florida heritage.org
In Florida, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 78 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 child pov-erty in Florida. 33.4% Some 33.4 percent of singlemothers with children were poor 30%compared to 7.2 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families withchildren are more than four times 20%more likely to be poor than fami-lies in which the parents are mar-ried. The higher poverty rate among 10%single-mother families is due both 7.2%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 Florida heritage.org
In Florida, One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headless than two-thirds of familieswith children in Florida. Well overone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 36.9% Married Families 63.1%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
In Florida, 71 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Florida, 71 percent arenot married. By contrast, three inten poor families with children areheaded by married couples. Married Families 29.1% Unmarried Families 70.9%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
In Florida, 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 6.7 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Florida Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: 6.7% By contrast, some 74 percent ofout-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. Age 19.1% 18–19: 13.5% Age 25–29: 23.8% Age 20–24: 36.9%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 Florida heritage.org
Less-Educated Women in Florida 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% Unmarrieddifﬁculty supporting children by 11.5% Mothersthemselves: those with low levels 90%of education. 40.7% 80% In Florida, among women who 70% 59.1%are high school dropouts, aboutthree-quarters of all births occur 60% 74.9%outside marriage. Among womenwho have only a high school 50% 88.5% Marrieddiploma, 59 percent of all births Mothersoccur outside marriage. By con- 40%trast, among women with at least a 30% 59.3%college degree, only 11.5 percentof births are out of wedlock. 20% 40.9% 25.1% 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 NHS Years) Years) Years) Years)data. Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Florida The poverty rate of married PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES Poverty Rate of Families bycouples with children is dramatically WITH CHILDREN THAT Single Education and Marital Statuslower than the rate for households ARE POOR Married of the Head of Householdheaded by single parents. This is true 60%even when the married couple is 53.5%compared to single parents with thesame education level. 50% For example, in Florida, the pov-erty rate for a single mother who has 40% 36.2%only a high school diploma is 36.2percent, but the poverty rate for a 30%married couple family headed by an 25.5%individual who, similarly, has only a 20.1% 20%high school degree is far lower at 9.8percent. 11.2% 10% 9.8% On average, marriage drops the 4.5%poverty rate by around 74 percent 2.4%among families with the same educa- 0%tion 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 Florida heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Florida Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% In 2008, 47 percent of births inFlorida occurred outside marriage. 8.3% 69.9%The rate was lowest among non- 70%Hispanic whites at over one inthree births (35.3 percent). 60%Among Hispanics, over half ofbirths were out-of-wedlock. 50.5% 50% 46.9%Among blacks, seven out of tenbirths were to unmarried women(69.9 percent). 40% 35.3% 30% 20% 10%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 0%Human Services, Centers for Disease All Races White Hispanic BlackControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS Non- Non-data. Hispanic Hispanic Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Florida, 1929–2008 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 Hispanic 70% 69.9%government’s War on Poverty in1964, the rates for both whites and 60%blacks were comparatively low. In 1964, one in twenty-ﬁve (4 Hispanicpercent) white children were born 50% 50.5%outside marriage. By 2008, thenumber had risen to over one in 40% White Non-three (35.3 percent). Hispanic 35.3% In 1964, three in ten black 30%children (29.6 percent) were bornoutside marriage. By 2008, the 20%number had risen to seven in ten(69.9 percent). 10%Note: No data is available for 1979. 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 Florida heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Florida In Florida in 2008, some 45.7 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births (both marital andnon-marital) occurred to non-Hispanic whites, 28.5 percentoccurred to Hispanics, and 22.3percent to non-Hispanic blacks. 45.7% White Non- 34.4% Because black and Hispanic people Hispanicare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, a dispropor-tionate share of all out-of-wedlockbirths occur to those groups. None-theless, the largest number of out-of- 30.7%wedlock births still occur to whitenon-Hispanic women Hispanic 28.5% In Florida in 2008, 34.4 percent ofall non-marital births were to non-Hispanic whites, 30.7 percent were toHispanics, and 33.3 percent were toblack non-Hispanic women. Black Non- 33.3% 22.3% HispanicSource: U.S. Department of Health and 3.5% Asian/Other 1.6%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Five Times More Likely to Be Poorin Florida Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics in Florida. 20% For example, in 2009, the pov- 17.9%erty rate for married white familiesin Florida was 3.5 percent. But thepoverty rate for non-married white 15%families was ﬁve times higher at17.9 percent. 10% 5% 3.5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Four Times More Likely to Be Poorin Florida In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Floridawas 8.1 percent, while the poverty 40%rate for non-married black familieswas four times higher at 33.9 33.9%percent. 30% 20% 10% 8.1% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Nearly Three Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Florida In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inFlorida was 10.2 percent, while 35%the poverty rate among non-married families was nearly three 29.3%times higher at 29.3 percent. 30% 25% 20% 15% 10.2% 10% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Florida 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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