Marriage:Mississippi’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 Mississippi, 1929–2010 Throughout most of PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKMississippi’s history, out-of-wedlock childbearing was rare. 60% 54.8% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964, 50%only 15.3 percent of children inMississippi were born out of wed-lock. However, over the next fourdecades, the number rose rapidly. 40%By 2010, 54.8 percent of births inMississippi 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 Mississippi heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Mississippi, 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 norm 80%in Mississippi. In 1964, nearly 85percent of births occurred to mar- 70%ried couples. However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fall 60%steadily. By 2010, only 45.2 per-cent of births in Mississippi 50%occurred to married couples. 45.2% 40%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1) 30%and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 20%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 Mississippi heritage.org
In Mississippi, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 82 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock childbearing is a major 60%cause of high levels of child pov-erty in Mississippi. 50.4% Some 50.4 percent of single 50%mothers with children were poorcompared to 9.1 percent of mar-ried couples with children. 40% Single-parent families withchildren are nearly six times more 30%likely to be poor than families inwhich the parents are married. The higher poverty rate among 20%single-mother families is due bothto the lower education levels of 9.1%the mothers and the lower income 10%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 Mississippi heritage.org
In Mississippi, Over Four in Ten Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples head57 percent of all families withchildren in Mississippi. About 43percent are single-parent families. Unmarried Married Families Families 43.0% 57.0%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
In Mississippi, 79 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Mississippi, abouteight in ten are not married. Bycontrast, only one-ﬁfth of poorfamilies with children are headed Marriedby married couples. Families 20.5% Unmarried Families 79.5%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
In Mississippi, 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 9.3 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Missis- Undersippi occur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 80 percent of 9.3%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 11.0% Age 18–19: Age 17.1% 25–29: 21.3% Age 20–24: 41.3%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 Mississippi 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 100% Unmarriedsupporting children by themselves: 8.1%those with low levels of education. 90% Mothers In the U.S., among women who 42.0%are high school dropouts, about 65.2 80%percent of all births occur outside 54.5%marriage. Among women who have 70%only a high school diploma, well 65.2%over half of all births occur outside 60% Married 91.9%marriage. By contrast, among 50% Motherswomen with at least a collegedegree, only 8.1 percent of births are 40%out of wedlock. 58.0% 30% 45.5%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlock 20%births and maternal education are not 34.8%available in Mississippi. However, the 10%pattern varies little between states. Missis-sippi data will be very similar to the 0%national data presented in this chart. High School High School Some College Mother’s Dropout Graduate College Graduate educationSource: U.S. Department of Health and (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ levelHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS data. Years) Years) Years) Years) Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in Mississippi 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- 70.5% 70%ents with the same education level. 60% For example, in Mississippi, the 53.7%poverty rate for a single mother 50%who has only a high school 41.5%diploma is 53.7 percent, but the 40%poverty rate for a married couplefamily headed by an individual 30% 29.5%who, similarly, has only a highschool degree is far lower at 11.4 20% 11.4% 13.7%percent. 10% 5.4% On average, marriage drops the 1.6%poverty rate by about 78 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 Mississippi heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Mississippi Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. In 2008, 54.5 percent of births 100%in Mississippi occurred outside 8.3% 90%marriage. The rate was lowestamong non-Hispanic whites at 80.5% 80%nearly one in three births (31.8percent). Among Hispanics, nearly 70%six in ten births were out-of-wedlock. Among blacks, over 60% 59.0% 54.5%eight in ten births were to unmar-ried women (80.5 percent). 50% 40% 31.8% 30% 20% 10% 0%Source: U.S. Department of Health and All Races White Hispanic BlackHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS Non- Non-data. Hispanic Hispanic Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Mississippi, 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 Hispanic 80%1964, the rates for both whites and 80.5%blacks were comparatively low. 70% In 1964, around one in ﬁfty Hispanicwhite children (1.9 percent) were 60% 59.0%born outside marriage. By 2008,the number had risen to almost 50%one in three (31.8 percent). 40% In 1964, about one in four black White Non-children (26.7 percent) were born Hispanic 30%outside marriage. By 2008, the 31.8%number had risen to over eight in 20%ten (80.5 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 Mississippi heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin Mississippi ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS In Mississippi in 2008, some50.3 percent of all births occurredto non-Hispanic whites, 44.1percent occurred to non-Hispanicblacks, and 3.9 percent occurred 50.3% White Non- 29.3%to Hispanics. Hispanic Because blacks and Hispanicsare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionatelylarger share of all out-of-wedlockbirths. In Mississippi in 2008, 65.2 65.2%percent of non-marital births Black Non-occurred to black non-Hispanic Hispanicwomen, 29.3 percent of all non- 44.1%marital births were to non-Hispanic whites, and 4.2 percentwere to Hispanics. 3.9% Hispanic 4.2%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 1.7% Asian/Other 1.3%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Five Times More Likely to Be Poorin Mississippi Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 30% For example, in 2009, the pov-erty rate for married white families 26.0%in Mississippi was 5.2 percent. But 25%the poverty rate for non-marriedwhite families was ﬁve timeshigher at 26 percent. 20% 15% 10% 5.2% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Four Times More Likely to Be Poorin Mississippi In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples inMississippi was 12.1 percent, 60%while the poverty rate for non-married black families was fourtimes higher at 49.2 percent. 49.2% 50% 40% 30% 20% 12.1% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Nearly Three Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Mississippi In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in Mis-sissippi was 20.2 percent, while 60%the poverty rate among non-married families was nearly three 52.0%times higher at 52 percent. 50% 40% 30% 20.2% 20% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Mississippi 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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