Marriage: Minnesota's No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty
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Marriage: Minnesota's No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood Poverty

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Given the importance of marriage in reducing child poverty, the following steps should be undertaken to strengthen marriage in low income communities in Minnesota. ...

Given the importance of marriage in reducing child poverty, the following steps should be undertaken to strengthen marriage in low income communities in Minnesota.

1) Reduce anti-marriage penalties in welfare programs.
2) Create public education campaigns in low-income communities on the benefits of marriage.
3) Require welfare offices to provide factual information on the value of marriage in reducing poverty and welfare dependence.
4) Explain the benefits of marriage in middle and high schools with a high proportion of at-risk youth.
5) 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.
6) Require federally funded birth control clinics to offer voluntary referrals to life planning and marriage skills education to all interested low-income clients.
7) Make voluntary marriage education widely available to interested couples in low-income communities.

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  • 1. Marriage:Minnesota’s No. 1 Weapon Against Childhood PovertyHow the Collapse of Marriage Hurts the Nation and 7 Steps to Reverse the Damage A Heritage Foundation Book of Charts • 2011 Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society
  • 2. Growth of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in Minnesota, 1929–2009 Throughout most of Minnesota PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKhistory, out-of-wedlock childbear-ing was rare. 35% 33.5% When the federal government’sWar on Poverty began in 1964, 30%only 4.6 percent of children inMinnesota were born out of wed-lock. However, over the next four 25%decades, the number rose rapidly.By 2009, more than one-third ofall births in Minnesota occurred 20%outside of marriage. 15%Note: Initiated by President Lyndon 10%Johnson in 1963, the War on Povertyled 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 2008Statistics. Chart 1 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 3. Death of Marriage in Minnesota, 1929–2009 The marital birth rate—the PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN TO MARRIED COUPLESpercentage of all births that occurto married parents—is the flip side 100%of the out-of-wedlock birth rate. Through most of the 20thcentury, marital births were thenorm in Minnesota. In 1964, more 90%than 95 percent of births occurredto married couples. However, in the mid-1960s, themarital birth rate began to fallsteadily. By 2009, only 66.5 80%percent of births in Minnesotaoccurred to married couples. 70%Note: In any given year, the sum of theout-of-wedlock birth rate (Chart 1) 66.5%and the marital birth rate (Chart 2)equals 100 percent of all births. 60%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. CensusBureau, and National Center for Health 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008Statistics. Chart 2 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 4. In Minnesota, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 89 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock child bearing is a major 50%cause of high levels of child pov-erty in Minnesota. Some 33.2 percent of single 40%mothers with children were poorcompared to 3.8 percent of mar- 33.2%ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 30%children are nearly nine 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 3.8%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 Minnesota heritage.org
  • 5. In Minnesota, Nearly One-Quarter of All Families With ChildrenAre Not Married Overall, married couples headthree-quarters of families withchildren in Minnesota. Nearlyone-quarter are single-parentfamilies. Unmarried Families 22.7% Married Families 77.3%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 6. In Minnesota, 74 Percent of Poor Families with ChildrenAre Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Minnesota, 74 percentare not married. By contrast,one-quarter of poor families withchildren are headed by married Marriedcouples. Families 25.9% Unmarried Families 74.1%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 7. In Minnesota, 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 6 percent of out-of-wedlock births in Minnesota Underoccur to girls under age 18. Age 18: 5.7% By contrast, some 77 percent ofout-of-wedlock births occur to Ageyoung adult women between the 30–54: Ageages of 18 and 29. 17.3% 18–19: 13.3% Age 25–29: 25.2% Age 20–24: 38.5%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 Minnesota heritage.org
  • 8. Less-Educated Women in Minnesota Are More Likelyto Give Birth Outside 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% 8.1% Unmarriedporting children by themselves: those 90% Motherswith low levels of education. Nationwide, among women who 37.7% 80%are high school dropouts, about 54.5%two-thirds of all births occur outside 70% 65.2%marriage. Among women who have 60%only a high school diploma, more 91.9%than half of all births occur outside 50% Marriedmarriage. By contrast, among women Motherswith at least a college degree, only 8 40% 62.3%percent of births are out-of-wedlock. 30% 45.5%Note: Specific data on out-wedlock births 20%and maternal education are not available in 34.8%Minnesota. However, the pattern varies 10%little between states. Minnesota data willbe 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 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 Minnesota heritage.org
  • 9. Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in Minnesota The poverty rate of married PERCENTAGE OF Poverty Rate of Families bycouples is dramatically lower than FAMILIES THAT Single Education and Marital Statusthe rate for households headed by ARE POOR Married of the Head of Householdsingle parents. This is true even 60%when the married couple is com- 53.4%pared to single parents with thesame education level. 50% For example, in Minnesota thepoverty rate for a single mother 40%who has only a high schooldiploma is 29.5 percent, but the 30% 29.5%poverty rate for a married couple 23.5%family headed by an individual 20%who, similarly, has only a highschool degree is far lower at 3.6 13.1%percent. 10% 8.0% On average, marriage drops the 3.6% 2.4% 1.1%poverty rate by around 85 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, 2007–2009 data. dropouts are minor teenagers. Chart 8 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 10. Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Minnesota Out-of-wedlock child bearing PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKvaries considerably by race. 80% In 2008, one in three births(33.3 percent) in Minnesota 8.3%occurred outside marriage. The 70%rate was lowest among non- 60.9%Hispanic whites at over one in 60% 57.9%four births (26.0 percent). AmongHispanics, well over half of births 50%were out-of-wedlock. Amongblacks six out of 10 births were tounmarried women (60.9 percent). 40% 33.3% 30% 26.0% 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 Minnesota heritage.org
  • 11. Growth of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing by Race in Minnesota,1934–2008 Historically, out-of-wedlock PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKchildbearing has been somewhat 80%more frequent among blacks thanamong whites. However, prior tothe onset of the federal 70% Black Non-government’s War on Poverty in Hispanic1964, the rates for both whites and 60.9% 60%blacks were comparatively low. Hispanic In 1964, one in twenty-five (4.1 57.9% 50%percent) white children were bornoutside marriage. By 2008, thenumber had risen to more than 40%one in four (26.0 percent). In 1964, more than two in ten 30% White Non-black children (27.0 percent) were Hispanic 26.0%born outside marriage. By 2008, 20%the number had risen to over sixin ten (60.9 percent). 10%Sources: U.S. Government, U.S. Census 0%Bureau, and National Center for HealthStatistics. 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2008 Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 12. Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Birthsin Minnesota In Minnesota in 2008, some 72.8 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births (both marital andnon-marital) occurred to non-Hispanic whites, 7.9 percentoccurred to Hispanics, and 9.2percent to non-Hispanic blacks. Because black and Hispanic people White Non-are more likely to have children Hispanic 56.8%without being married, a dispropor-tionate share of all out-of-wedlock 72.8%births occur to those groups. None-theless, the largest number of out-of-wedlock births still occur to whitenon-Hispanic women In Minnesota in 2008, 56.8 percent 16.8%of all non-marital births were to Black Non-non-Hispanic whites, 13.8 percent Hispanicwere to Hispanics, and 16.6 percent 9.2% 13.8%were to black non-Hispanic women. 7.9% Hispanic 10.1% 12.7%Source: U.S. Department of Health and Asian/OtherHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 13. Non-Married White Families Are Ten Times More Likely to Be Poorin Minnesota Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites, blacks, andHispanics in Minnesota. 25% For example, in 2009, thepoverty rate for married whitefamilies in Minnesota was 2.1 20.1%percent. But the poverty rate for 20%non-married white families wasnearly ten times higher at 20.1percent. 15% 10% 5% 2.1% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 12 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 14. Non-Married Black Families Are Nearly Four Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Minnesota In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORmarried black couples inMinnesota was 12.2 percent, while 50%the poverty rate for non-marriedblack families was nearly four 45% 45%times higher at 45 percent. 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 12.2% 10% 5% 0%Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Married Families Non-Married FamiliesAmerican Community Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 13 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 15. Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Nearly Three Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Minnesota In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families inMinnesota was 14.4 percent, while 50%the poverty rate amongnon-married families was nearlythree times higher at 42.1 percent. 42.1% 40% 30% 20% 14.4% 10% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 14 • Marriage and Poverty in Minnesota heritage.org
  • 16. 7 Steps to Reduce Child Poverty through MarriageGiven the importance of marriage in reducing child poverty, the following steps shouldbe undertaken to strengthen marriage in low income communities in Minnesota.1) Reduce anti-marriage penalties in welfare programs.2) Create public education campaigns in low-income communities on the benefits ofmarriage.3) Require welfare offices to provide factual information on the value of marriage inreducing poverty and welfare dependence.4) Explain the benefits of marriage in middle and high schools with a high proportion ofat-risk youth.5) Require federally funded birth control clinics to provide information on the benefits ofmarriage and the skills needed to develop stable families to interested low-income clients.6) Require federally funded birth control clinics to offer voluntary referrals to lifeplanning and marriage skills education to all interested low-income clients.7) Make voluntary marriage education widely available to interested couples in low-income communities.
  • 17. The Family & Religion Initiative is one of 10 Transformational Initiatives making up The HeritageFoundation’s Leadership for America campaign. For more products and information related to this initiativeor to learn more about the Leadership for America campaign, please visit heritage.org. The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is toformulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited gov-ernment, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Our vision is to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish. Asconservatives, we believe the values and ideas that motivated our Founding Fathers are worth conserving.As policy entrepreneurs, we believe the most effective solutions are consistent with those ideas and values. 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE • Washington, D.C. 20002 • (202) 546-4400 • heritage.org