Marriage:New Jersey’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty How 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 New Jersey, 1929–2010 Throughout most of New PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKJersey’s history, out-of-wedlockchildbearing was rare. 40% When the federal government’s 35.0%War on Poverty began in 1964, 35%only 5.4 percent of children inNew Jersey were born out of 30%wedlock. However, over the nextfour decades, the number rose 25%rapidly. By 2010, 35 percent ofbirths in New Jersey occurredoutside of marriage. 20% 15%Note: Initiated by President LyndonJohnson in 1964, the War on Poverty 10%led to the creation of more than threedozen welfare programs to aid poorpersons. Government has spent $16.7 5%trillion 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 New Jersey heritage.org
Death of Marriage in New Jersey, 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 New Jersey. In 1964, nearly 95percent of births occurred tomarried couples. 80% However, in the mid-1960s,the marital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2010, only 65 percent 70%of births in New Jersey occurredto married couples. 65.0% 60%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-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 New Jersey heritage.org
In New Jersey, 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 35%high levels of child poverty in NewJersey. 30% 28.7% Some 28.7 percent of singlemothers with children are poorcompared to 3.7 percent of 25%married couples with children. Single-parent families with 20%children are nearly eight timesmore likely to be poor thanfamilies in which the parents are 15%married. The higher poverty rate among 10%single-mother families is due bothto the lower education levels of 3.7% 5%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 New Jersey heritage.org
In New Jersey, Three in Ten Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headabout 70 percent of families withchildren in New Jersey. About 30percent are single-parent families. Unmarried Families 29.4% Married Families 70.6%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in New Jersey heritage.org
In New Jersey, 74 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in New Jersey, aboutthree-quarters are not married. Bycontrast, one-quarter of poorfamilies with children are headedby married couples. Married Families 25.9% Unmarried Families 74.1%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in New Jersey heritage.org
In New Jersey, 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 5.4 percent ofout-of-wedlock births in New Under Age 18:Jersey occur to girls under age 18. 5.4% By contrast, some 70 percent ofout-of-wedlock births occur toyoung adult women between the Ageages of 18 and 29. Age 18–19: 30–54: 11.2% 24.5% Age 20–24: Age 33.0% 25–29: 25.9%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 New Jersey 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 80%65.2 percent of all births occur 54.5%outside marriage. Among women 70%who have only a high school 65.2%diploma, well over half of all births 60% Married 91.9% Mothersoccur outside marriage. By contrast, 50%among women with at least acollege degree, only 8.1 percent of 40%births are 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 New Jersey. However, the 10%pattern varies little between states. NewJersey 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 New Jersey heritage.org
Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in New Jersey 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. 60%This is true even when the marriedcouple is compared to single par- 51.7%ents with the same education level. 50% For example, in New Jersey, thepoverty rate for a single mother 40%who has only a high school 32.0%diploma is 32 percent, but the 30%poverty rate for a married couplefamily headed by an individual 20.7% 20%who, similarly, has only a high 14.9%school degree is far lower at 5.3percent. 10% 8.4% 5.3% On average, marriage drops the 3.1% 1.4%poverty rate by about 81 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 New Jersey heritage.org
Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in New Jersey Out-of-wedlock childbearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% In 2008, 35 percent of births inNew Jersey occurred outside 8.3%marriage. The rate was lowest 70% 68.2%among non-Hispanic whites atabout one in six births (17.7 per- 59.4% 60%cent). Among Hispanics, about sixin ten births were out-of-wedlock. 50%Among blacks, over two-thirds ofthe births were to unmarriedwomen (68.2 percent). 40% 35.0% 30% 20% 17.7% 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 New Jersey heritage.org
Growth of Unwed Childbearing by Race in New Jersey, 1929–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhatmore frequent among blacks than 80%among whites. However, prior to Black Non- Hispanicthe onset of the federal 70% 68.2%government’s War on Poverty in1964, the rates for both whites and Hispanic 60%blacks were comparatively low. 59.4% In 1964, about one in forty (2.6 50%percent) white children were bornoutside marriage. By 2008, thenumber had risen to one in six 40%(17.7 percent). In 1964, about one in ﬁve black 30%children (21 percent) were bornoutside marriage. By 2008, the 20% White Non-number had risen to nearly sevenin ten (68.2 percent). Hispanic 10% 17.7% 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 New Jersey heritage.org
Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin New Jersey ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS In New Jersey in 2008, some47.5 percent of all births occurredto non-Hispanic whites, 26 per-cent occurred to Hispanics, and15.5 percent occurred to non- White Non- 24.0%Hispanic blacks. Hispanic Because blacks and Hispanics 47.5%are more likely to have childrenwithout being married, theyaccount for a disproportionatelylarger share of all out-of-wedlock 44.1%births. In New Jersey in 2008, 44.1percent of all non-marital births 26.0% Hispanicwere to Hispanic women, 30.1percent were to black non-Hispanic women, and 24 percentwere to non-Hispanic whites. 15.5% Black Non- 30.1% Hispanic 11.0%Source: U.S. Department of Health and Asian/Other 1.8%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in New Jersey heritage.org
Non-Married White Families Are Six Times More Likely to Be Poorin New Jersey Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, and His-panics. 14% For example, in 2009, the pov-erty rate for married white families 11.6%in New Jersey was 1.8 percent. 12%But the poverty rate for non-married white families was six 10%times higher at 11.6 percent. 8% 6% 4% 1.8% 2% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in New Jersey heritage.org
Non-Married Black Families Are Six Times More Likely to Be Poorin New Jersey In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples in NewJersey was 4.5 percent, while the 30%poverty rate for non-married blackfamilies was about six times 26.4%higher at 26.4 percent. 25% 20% 15% 10% 4.5% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in New Jersey heritage.org
Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Four Times More Likely to Be Poorin New Jersey In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in NewJersey was 7.6 percent, while the 35%poverty rate among non-married 31.4%families was over four timeshigher at 31.4 percent. 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 7.6% 5% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in New Jersey 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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