Marriage: Georgia’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 Georgia, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Georgia’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 50% In the late 1950s, before the 45.8%federal government began the Waron Poverty, only 10 percent of 40.8% 40%children in Georgia were bornoutside marriage. However, overthe next ﬁve decades, the numberrose rapidly. By 2010, 45.8 percent 30%of births in Georgia occurredoutside of marriage.Note: Data on non-marital births in 20% GeorgiaGeorgia are unavailable between 1959 Nationaland 1979. However, all states that dohave data for this period show a rapidgrowth in non-marital childbearing 10%from the mid-1960s on. The Georgiatrend during this period undoubtedlyparallels the national trend shown inthe chart. 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 Georgia heritage.org
In Georgia, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 82 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 inGeorgia. Some 37.8 percent of singlemothers with children were poor 40% 37.8%compared to 7 percent of marriedcouples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are more than ﬁve timesmore likely to be poor than fami-lies in which the parents are mar- 20%ried. The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due both 10%to the lower education levels of 7.0%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 2 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
More than One-Third of All Families with Children in GeorgiaAre Not Married Overall, married couples headless than two-thirds of familieswith children in Georgia. Wellover one-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 36.2% Married Families 63.8%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 3 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
In Georgia, 74 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Georgia, three-quartersare not married. By contrast, onlyone-quarter of poor families withchildren are headed by marriedcouples. Married Families 26.3% Unmarried Families 73.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
In Georgia, 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 8 percent of out-of-wedlock births in Georgia Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 75 percent of 8.2%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 16.6% Age 18–19: 14.6% Age 25–29: 22.9% Age 20–24: 37.7%Note: Figures have been rounded.Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Less-Educated Women in Georgia 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%difﬁculty supporting children by Unmarried 10.8% Mothersthemselves: those with low levels 90%of education. 39.8% 80% In Georgia, among women who 58.5%are high school dropouts, more 70%than two-thirds of all births occur 69.4% 60%outside marriage. Among womenwho have only a high school 50% Marrieddiploma, 59 percent of all births 89.3% 40% Mothersoccur outside marriage. By con- 60.2%trast, among women with at least a 30%college degree, only 11 percent of 41.5%births are out of wedlock. 20% 30.6% 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 6 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Georgia The poverty rate of married PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES Poverty Rate of Families by WITH CHILDREN THAT Singlecouples with children is dramati- Education and Marital Status ARE POOR Marriedcally lower than the rate for house- of the Head of Householdholds headed by single parents. 70%This is true even when the married 61.8%couple is compared to single par- 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in Georgia, the 50%poverty rate for a single mother 40.7%who has only a high school 40%diploma is 40.7 percent, but the 30.4%poverty rate for a married couple 30%family headed by an individual 23.6%who, similarly, has only a high 20%school degree is far lower at 8.7 8.7% 10.7%percent. 10% 4.3% On average, marriage drops the 1.6%poverty rate by around 78 percent 0% High School High School Some Collegeamong families with the same Dropout Graduate College Graduateeducation level.Source: 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 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Unwed Births Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Georgia Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% In 2008 (the most recent yearfor which racial breakdown is 8.3% 70.2%available), more than four in ten 70%births (45.4 percent) in Georgiaoccurred outside marriage. The 60%rate was lowest among non-Hispanic whites at more than one 50.9% 50%in four births (26.9 percent). 45.4%Among Hispanics, more than halfof births were out-of-wedlock. 40%Among blacks, seven out of 10births were to unmarried women 30% 26.9%(70.2 percent). 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 8 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Georgia, 1934–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock child- PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKbearing has been somewhat morefrequent among blacks than among 80%whites. However, prior to the onset ofthe federal government’s War on Povertyin the 1960s, the rates for both whites 70% 70.2%and blacks were comparatively low. In the late 1950s, 2 percent of white Georgia –children in Georgia were born outside 60% Blacksmarriage. By 2008, the number had National –risen to more than one in four (26.9 Blackspercent). 50% In the late 1950s, one-quarter of black Georgia –children in Georgia were born outside Whitesmarriage. By 2008, the number had 40%risen to about seven in every ten (70.2 National –percent). Whites 30% 26.9%Note: Data on non-marital births inGeorgia are unavailable between 1959 and 20%1979. However, all states that do have datafor this period show a rapid growth innon-marital childbearing from the mid- 10%1960s on. The Georgia trend during thisperiod undoubtedly parallels the nationaltrend shown in the chart. 0%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. Census Bureau, 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008and National Center for Health Statistics. Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Georgia In Georgia in 2008, some 43.5percent of all births occurred to ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSnon-Hispanic whites, 17.6 percentoccurred to Hispanics, and 33percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks. 25.8% White Non- Because blacks and Hispanics 43.5%are more likely to have children Hispanicwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionatelylarge share of all out-of-wedlockbirths. Even so, the largest numberof unwed births are to black non- 50.9%Hispanic women. Black Non- In Georgia in 2008, 25.8 percent 33.0% Hispanicof all non-marital births were tonon-Hispanic whites, 19.7 percentwere to Hispanics, and 50.9 per-cent were to black non-Hispanicwomen. 17.6% Hispanic 19.7%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 5.9% Asian/Other 3.6%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Six Times More Likely to Be Poorin Georgia Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 25% For example, in 2009, the pov- 22.5%erty rate for married white familiesin Georgia was 3.8 percent. Butthe poverty rate for non-married 20%white families was about six timeshigher at 22.5 percent. 15% 10% 5% 3.8% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are More than Five Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Georgia In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Georgiawas 6.2 percent, while the poverty 40%rate for non-married black familieswas more than ﬁve times higher at 34.9%34.9 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 6.2% 5% 0%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Ameri- Married Families Non-Married Familiescan Community Survey, 2007–2009data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are More than Twice as Likelyto Be Poor in Georgia In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inGeorgia was 20.4 percent, while 50%the poverty rate among non- 45.1%married families was more thantwice as high at 45.1 percent. 40% 30% 20.4% 20% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Georgia 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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