Marriage: Maine’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 Maine, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Maine’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,only 4.1 percent of children in 41.2% 40%Maine were born out of wedlock.However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly.By 2010, 41.2 percent of births in 30%Maine occurred outside of mar-riage. 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 Maine heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Maine, 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 Maine. In 1964, more than 96percent 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 Kansas occurredto 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 Maine heritage.org
In Maine, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 87 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 inMaine. Some 39.1 percent of single 39.1% 40%mothers with children were poorcompared to 5.1 percent of mar-ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are more than six 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 ofthe mothers and the lower income 5.1%due 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 Maine heritage.org
In Maine, One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in Maine. One-third aresingle-parent families. Unmarried Families 32.5% Married Families 67.5%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Maine heritage.org
In Maine, 76 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Maine, 76 percent arenot married. By contrast, onlyone-quarter of poor families withchildren are headed by married Marriedcouples. Families 23.8% Unmarried Families 76.3%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Maine heritage.org
In Maine, Few Unwed Births Occur to Teenagers Out-of-wedlock births are often PERCENTAGE OF OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSconfused erroneously with teen BY AGE OF MOTHER Underbirths, but only 4.9 percent of Age 18:out-of-wedlock births in Maine 4.9%occur to girls under age 18. By contrast, some 79 percent ofout-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54: Ageages of 18 and 29. 15.9% 18–19: 13.8% Age 25–29: 24.0% Age 20–24: 41.4%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 Maine heritage.org
Less-Educated Women in Maine Are More Likelyto Give Birth Outside of Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALmost frequently among the OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwomen who will have the greatest 100% 8.1% Unmarrieddifﬁculty supporting children by 90% Mothersthemselves: those with low levelsof education. 37.7% 80% Nationwide, among women 54.5%who are high school dropouts, 70% 65.2%about two-thirds of all births occur 60%outside marriage. Among womenwho have only a high school 50% Marrieddiploma, more than half of all 91.9% 40% Mothersbirths occur outside marriage. By 62.3%contrast, among women with at 30%least a college degree, only 8 per- 45.5%cent of births are out-of-wedlock. 20% 34.8%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlock 10%births and maternal education is notavailable in Maine. However, the pattern 0%varies little between states. Maine data High School High School Some College Mother’swill be very similar to the national data Dropout Graduate College Graduate educationpresented in this chart. (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ levelSource: U.S. Department of Health and Years) Years) Years) Years)Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Maine heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in Maine 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- 60% 57.9%ents with the same education level. For example, in Maine, the 50%poverty rate for a single mother 41.9%who has only a high school 40%diploma is 41.9 percent, but the 33.9%poverty rate for a married couple 30%family headed by an individual 25.7%who, similarly, has only a high 20%school degree is far lower at 8.8 11.6%percent. 10% 8.8% 4.9% On average, marriage drops the 1.3%poverty rate by 77 percent among 0%families with the same education High School High School Some Collegelevel. 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 Maine heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Maine In Maine in 2008, some 92.9 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred tonon-Hispanic whites, 2.7 percentoccurred to non-Hispanic blacks,and 1.6 percent occurred to His-panics. The pattern for non-maritalbirths was nearly identical. Some93.3 percent of all non-marital 92.9% White Non- 93.3%births were to non-Hispanic Hispanicwhites, 2.1 percent were to blacknon-Hispanic women, and 1.9percent were to Hispanics. 2.7% Black Non-Hispanic 2.1%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 1.6% Hispanic 1.9% 2.8% Asian/Other 2.7%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Maine heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Little by Race in Maine In 2008, 39.7 percent of births PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKin Maine occurred outside mar-riage. Out-of-wedlock childbear- 60%ing varied little by race. This uni- 8.3%form pattern is unusual. Among whites, four in every ten 50% 45.7%births were to unmarried women(39.9 percent). This was the 39.7% 39.9%second highest white non-marital 40%birth rate in the nation, and farhigher than the national average of 31.7%28.6 percent. 30% Among Hispanics, 45.7 percentof births were out-of-wedlock. The 20%rate among non-Hispanic blackswas around three in ten (31.7percent), far lower than thenational average. 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 10 • Marriage and Poverty in Maine 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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