Marriage:Louisiana’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 Louisiana, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Louisiana’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 60% When the federal government’s 53.3%War on Poverty began in 1964, 50%only 11.1 percent of children inLouisiana were born out of wed-lock. However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly. 40%By 2010, 53.3 percent of births inLouisiana occurred outside ofmarriage. 30% 20%Note: Initiated by President LyndonJohnson in 1964, the War on Povertyled to the creation of more than threedozen welfare programs to aid poor 10%persons. 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 Louisiana heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Louisiana, 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. 90% Through most of the 20th cen-tury, marital births were the normin Louisiana. In 1964, 89 percent 80%of births occurred to marriedcouples. 70% However, in the mid-1960s,the marital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 46.7 per- 60%cent of births in Louisianaoccurred to married couples. 50% 46.7%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1) 40%and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 30%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 Louisiana heritage.org
In Louisiana, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 86 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- 47.2%erty in Louisiana. Some 47.2 percent of single 40%mothers with children were poorcompared to 6.4 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are more than seventimes more likely to be poor thanfamilies in which the parents are 20%married. The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due both 10%to the lower education levels of 6.4%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 3 • Marriage and Poverty in Louisiana heritage.org
In Louisiana, 40 Percent of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headabout 60 percent of families withchildren in Louisiana. Over 40percent are single-parent families. Unmarried Families 40.5% Married Families 59.5%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Louisiana heritage.org
In Louisiana, 82 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Louisiana, over eightin ten are not married. By contrast,only 18 percent of poor familieswith children are headed by Marriedmarried couples. Families 18.2% Unmarried Families 81.8%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Louisiana heritage.org
In Louisiana, 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 7.6 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Louisiana Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 80 percent of 7.6%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 12.4% Age 18–19: 16.0% Age 25–29: 22.3% Age 20–24: 41.7%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 Louisiana heritage.org
Less-Educated Women Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside of Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs most PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALfrequently among the women who OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwill have the greatest difﬁculty sup- 100%porting children by themselves: those 8.1% Unmarriedwith low levels of education. 90% Mothers In the U.S., among women who 42.0% 80%are high school dropouts, about 65.2percent of all births occur outside 54.5% 70%marriage. Among women who have 65.2%only a high school diploma, well over 60% Marriedhalf of all births occur outside mar- 91.9% 50% Mothersriage. By contrast, among womenwith at least a college degree, only 40%8.1 percent of births are out of wed- 58.0%lock. 30% 45.5%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlockbirths and maternal education are not 20% 34.8%available in Louisiana. However, thepattern varies little between states. 10%Louisiana data will be very similar to thenational data presented in this chart. 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 Louisiana heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in Louisiana 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. 80%This is true even when the marriedcouple is compared to single par- 70% 67.8%ents with the same education level. 60% For example, in Louisiana, thepoverty rate for a single mother 50.3% 50%who has only a high schooldiploma is 50.3 percent, but the 40% 36.7%poverty rate for a married couplefamily headed by an individual 30%who, similarly, has only a high 20.9%school degree is far lower at 7.5 20%percent. 9.3% 10% 7.5% 5.1% On average, marriage drops the 1.3%poverty rate by about 82 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 Louisiana heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Louisiana Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 100% In 2008, 53 percent of births inLouisiana occurred outside mar- 8.3% 90%riage. The rate was lowest amongnon-Hispanic whites at over one 79.4% 80%in three births (34.2 percent).Among Hispanics, 57.1 percent of 70%births were out of wedlock.Among blacks, about eight in ten 60% 57.1%births were to unmarried women 53.0%(79.4 percent). 50% 40% 34.2% 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 Louisiana heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Louisiana, 1929–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhatmore frequent among blacks than 100%among whites. However, prior to 90%the onset of the federal Black Non-government’s War on Poverty in 80% Hispanic1964, the rates for both whites and 79.4%blacks were comparatively low. 70% In 1964, around one white childin ﬁfty (2.1 percent) were born 60% Hispanicoutside marriage. By 2008, the 57.1%number had risen to over one in 50%three (34.2 percent). 40% White Non- In 1964, about one in four black Hispanicchildren (24.5 percent) were born 34.2% 30%outside marriage By 2008, thenumber had risen to over eight in 20%ten (79.4 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 Louisiana heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Louisiana In Louisiana in 2008, some ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS53.2 percent of all births occurredto non-Hispanic whites, 39.2percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks, and 5.2 percent occurredto Hispanics. Because blacks and Hispanics 53.2% White Non- 34.4%are more likely to have children Hispanicwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionatelylarger share of all out-of-wedlockbirths. In Louisiana in 2008, 34.4percent of all non-marital birthswere to non-Hispanic whites, 58.7 Black Non-percent were to black non- HispanicHispanic women, and 5.6 percent 39.2% 58.7%were to Hispanics. 5.2% Hispanic 5.6% 2.4% Asian/Other 1.3%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 Louisiana heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Nearly Seven Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Louisiana Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 30% For example, in 2009, the pov- 26.3%erty rate for married white familiesin Louisiana was 3.9 percent. But 25%the poverty rate for non-marriedwhite families was almost seventimes higher at 26.3 percent. 20% 15% 10% 5% 3.9% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Louisiana heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Nearly Five Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Louisiana In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Louisi-ana was 9.7 percent, while the 50%poverty rate for non-married black 45.7%families was nearly ﬁve times 45%higher at 45.7 percent. 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 9.7% 10% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Louisiana heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Four Times More Likely to Be Poorin Louisiana In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inLouisiana was 8.7 percent, while 40%the poverty rate among non-married families was four times 35% 34.0%higher at 34 percent. 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 8.7% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Louisiana 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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