Marriage:Kentucky’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 Kentucky, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Kentucky’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 50% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964, 41.2%only 6.1 percent of children in 40%Kentucky were born out of wed-lock. However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly.By 2010, 41.2 percent of births in 30%Kentucky 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 Kentucky heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Kentucky, 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 cen- 90%tury, marital births were the normin Kentucky. In 1964, nearly 94percent of births occurred tomarried couples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 58.8 per- 70%cent of births in Kentuckyoccurred to married couples. 60%Note: In any given year, the sum of the 58.8%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 Kentucky heritage.org
In Kentucky, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 79 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock childbearing is a major 50%cause of high levels of child pov- 47.6%erty in Kentucky. Some 47.6 percent of single 40%mothers with children were poorcompared to 10 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are nearly 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 10.0% 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 Kentucky heritage.org
In Kentucky, One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in Kentucky. Overone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 33.9% Married Families 66.1%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Kentucky heritage.org
In Kentucky, 69 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Kentucky, about sevenin ten are not married. By contrast,31.3 percent of poor families withchildren are headed by marriedcouples. Married Families 31.3% Unmarried Families 68.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Kentucky heritage.org
In Kentucky, 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 8.4 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Kentucky Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 79 percent of 8.4%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 12.9% Age 18–19: Age 17.7% 25–29: 21.2% Age 20–24: 39.8%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 Kentucky heritage.org
Less-Educated Women Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside of Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITAL OR OUT OF WEDLOCKmost frequently among thewomen who will have the greatest 100% Unmarrieddifﬁculty supporting children by 6.8% 90% Mothersthemselves: those with low levelsof education. 37.4% 80% In Kentucky, among women 51.8%who are high school dropouts, 70% 64.6%64.6 percent of all births occur 60%outside marriage. Among women 93.2% Marriedwho have only a high school 50% Mothersdiploma, over half of all births 40%occur outside marriage. By con- 62.6%trast, among women with at least a 30%college degree, only 6.8 percent of 48.2%births are out of wedlock. 20% 35.4% 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 Kentucky heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effective in ReducingChild Poverty in Kentucky 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- 58.9% 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in Kentucky, the 50%poverty rate for a single motherwho has only a high school 40%diploma is 35.5 percent, but the 35.5%poverty rate for a married couple 30% 29.6%family headed by an individual 21.4%who, similarly, has only a high 20%school degree is far lower at 9percent. 10% 9.0% 7.8% On average, marriage drops the 4.3% 1.1%poverty rate by about 77 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 Kentucky heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Kentucky Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 90% In 2008, 40.7 percent of birthsin Kentucky occurred outside 8.3%marriage. The rate was lowest 80% 76.7%among non-Hispanic whites atover one in three births (36.5 70%percent). Among Hispanics, overhalf of births were out of wedlock. 60% 53.0%Among blacks, over three in fourbirths were to unmarried women 50%(76.7 percent). 40.7% 40% 36.5% 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 Kentucky heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Kentucky, 1929–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhat 100%more frequent among blacks thanamong whites. However, prior to 90%the onset of the federalgovernment’s War on Poverty in Black Non- 80%1964, the rates for both whites and Hispanicblacks were comparatively low. 76.7% 70% In 1964, around one in twenty-ﬁve white children (3.8 percent) 60%were born outside marriage. By Hispanic2008, the number had risen to 50% 53.0%well over one in three (36.5 per- White Non-cent). 40% Hispanic In 1964, about three in ten black 36.5% 30%children (30.8 percent) were bornoutside marriage. By 2008, the 20%number had risen to over three infour (76.7 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 Kentucky heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Kentucky In Kentucky in 2008, some 84 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred tonon-Hispanic whites, 9.3 percentoccurred to non-Hispanic blacks,and 5 percent occurred to Hispan-ics. Because blacks and Hispanicsare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionately 84.0% White Non- 75.2%larger share of all out-of-wedlock Hispanicbirths. Even so, the overwhelmingmajority of unwed births occur towhite non-Hispanic women. In Kentucky in 2008, 75.2percent of all non-marital birthswere to non-Hispanic whites, 17.6percent were to black non-Hispanic women, and 6.5 percent Black Non- 17.6%were to Hispanics. 9.3% Hispanic 5.0% Hispanic 6.5% 1.7% Asian/Other 0.7%Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Kentucky heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Five Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Kentucky Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 40% For example, in 2009, the pov- 35.4%erty rate for married white families 35%in Kentucky was 7 percent. Butthe poverty rate for non-married 30%white families was ﬁve timeshigher at 35.4 percent. 25% 20% 15% 10% 7.0% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Kentucky heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Nearly Seven Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Kentucky In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples inKentucky was 6.8 percent, while 50%the poverty rate for non-married 46.3%black families was nearly seven 45%times higher at 46.3 percent. 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 6.8% 5% 0%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Married Families Non-Married FamiliesCommunity Survey, 2007– 2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Kentucky heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are More than Twice as Likelyto Be Poor in Kentucky In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in Ken-tucky was 21.1 percent, while the 60%poverty rate among non-marriedfamilies was two times higher at49.1 percent. 50% 49.1% 40% 30% 21.1% 20% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Kentucky 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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