Marriage:Missouri’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 Missouri, 1929–2010 Throughout most of Missouri’s PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 60% When the federal governmentsWar on Poverty began in 1964, 50%only 7.3 percent of children inMissouri were born out of wed-lock. However, over the next four 40.2%decades, the number rose rapidly. 40%By 2010, 40.2 percent of births inMissouri 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 Missouri heritage.org
Death of Marriage in Missouri, 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 Missouri. In 1964, nearly 93percent of births occurred to mar- 70%ried couples. However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fall 60% 59.8%steadily. By 2010, only 59.8 per-cent of births in Missouri occurred 50%to married couples. 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 Missouri heritage.org
In Missouri, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 85 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock childbearing is a major 45%cause of high levels of child pov-erty in Missouri. 40.0% 40% Some 40 percent of single moth-ers with children were poor com- 35%pared to 6.1 percent of marriedcouples with children. 30% Single-parent families with 25%children are nearly seven timesmore likely to be poor than fami- 20%lies in which the parents are mar-ried. 15% The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due both 10%to the lower education levels of 6.1%the mothers and the lower income 5%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 Missouri heritage.org
In Missouri, One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headtwo-thirds of all families withchildren in Missouri. Aboutone-third are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 34.3% Married Families 65.7%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Missouri heritage.org
In Missouri, 75 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Missouri, three-quarters are not married. Bycontrast, one-quarter of poorfamilies with children are headedby married couples. Married Families 24.6% Unmarried Families 75.4%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Missouri heritage.org
In Missouri, 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 7.9 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in Missouri Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: By contrast, some 79 percent of 7.9%out-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54:ages of 18 and 29. 13.3% Age 18–19: 16.4% Age 25–29: 22.2% Age 20–24: 40.2%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 Missouri 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% 91.9% Marriedhalf of all births occur outside mar- Mothersriage. By contrast, among women 50%with at least a college degree, only 40%8.1 percent of births are out-of- 58.0%wedlock. 30% 45.5%Note: Specific data on out-of-wedlock 20%births and maternal education are not 34.8%available in Missouri. However, the pattern 10%varies little between states. Missouri datawill be very similar to the national data 0%presented in this chart. High School High School Some College Mother’s Dropout Graduate College Graduate educationSource: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for Disease (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ levelControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS data. Years) Years) Years) Years) Chart 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Missouri heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in Missouri 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 married 63.1%couple is compared to single par- 60%ents with the same education level. For example, in Missouri, the 50%poverty rate for a single mother 43.5%who has only a high school 40%diploma is 43.5 percent, but the 31.6%poverty rate for a married couple 30%family headed by an individual 23.8%who, similarly, has only a high 20%school degree is far lower at 9.1percent. 9.1% 10.6% 10% 4.7% On average, marriage drops the 1.7%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 Missouri heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Missouri Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 100% In 2008, 40.9 percent of birthsin Missouri occurred outside 8.3% 90%marriage. The rate was lowestamong non-Hispanic whites at one 80% 79.1%in three births (33.1 percent).Among Hispanics, over half of 70%births were out of wedlock.Among blacks, nearly eight in ten 60%births were to unmarried women 51.5%(79.1 percent). 50% 40.9% 40% 33.1% 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 Missouri heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in Missouri, 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 federalgovernment’s War on Poverty in Black Non- 80% Hispanic1964, the rates for both whites and 79.1%blacks were comparatively low. 70% In 1964, less than one in thirty(3.1 percent) white children were 60%born outside marriage. By 2008, Hispanicthe number had risen to one in 50% 51.5%three (33.1 percent). 40% White Non- In 1964, about three in ten blackchildren (31.7 percent) were born Hispanic 30% 33.1%outside marriage. By 2008, thenumber had risen to nearly eight 20%in ten (79.1 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 Missouri heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Missouri In Missouri in 2008, some 75.8 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred tonon-Hispanic whites, 15.4 percentoccurred to non-Hispanic blacks,and 5.6 percent occurred to His-panics. Because blacks and Hispanicsare more likely to have childrenwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionately White Non-larger share of all out-of-wedlock 75.8% 61.4%births. Even so, the largest number Hispanicof unwed births are to white non-Hispanic women. In Missouri in 2008, 61.4 per-cent of all non-marital births wereto non-Hispanic whites, 29.9percent were to black non-Hispanic women, and 7.1 percent 29.9% Black Non-were to Hispanics. 15.4% Hispanic 5.6% Hispanic 7.1% 3.2% Asian/Other 1.6%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 Missouri heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Seven Times More Likely to Be Poorin Missouri Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 30% For example, in 2009, the pov- 27.9%erty rate for married white familiesin Missouri was 3.9 percent. But 25%the poverty rate for non-marriedwhite families was seven timeshigher at 27.9 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 Missouri heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Six Times More Likely to Be Poorin Missouri In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in Missouriwas 5.9 percent, while the poverty 40%rate for non-married black families 36.4%was six times higher at 36.4 per-cent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5.9% 5% 0%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Married Families Non-Married FamiliesCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Missouri heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Three Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Missouri In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in Mis-souri was 12.9 percent, while the 45%poverty rate among non-married 42.1%families was over three times 40%higher at 42.1 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 12.9% 10% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Missouri 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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