Marriage & Poverty: Vermont


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Marriage is America's #1 weapon against childhood poverty. This presentation details the impact of marriage on the probability of child poverty in Vermont.

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Marriage & Poverty: Vermont

  1. 1. Marriage:Vermont’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 • January 2012 Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society
  2. 2. Growth of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in Vermont, 1929–2010 In 2010, a record 39.2 percent PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCKof children in Vermont were bornoutside marriage. Throughout most 50%of Vermont’s history, non-maritalchildbearing was rare. For example,in 1950 only two percent of children 40.8%in the state were born to unmarried 40%women. In the late 1970s the rate 39.2%was still below ten percent. However,over the last three decades unwedchildbearing in Vermont has 30%increased dramatically. NationalNote: Data on non-marital births in VermontVermont are unavailable between 1951and 1977. However, all states that have 20%data for this period show rates whichparallel the national trend displayed in thechart. In these states, the non-marital birthrates remained low until the onset of thefederal War on Poverty in the mid-1960s, 10%and then began to rise steadily. TheVermont unwed birth rate between 1934and 1979 very likely parallels the overallnational trend. 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 Vermont
  3. 3. In Vermont, Marriage Drops the Probability of Child Povertyby 89 Percent The rapid rise in out-of- PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE POORwedlock childbearing is a major 35%cause of high levels of child pov- 32.7%erty in Vermont. 30% Some 32.7 percent of singlemothers with children are poorcompared to 3.5 percent of mar- 25%ried couples with children. Single-parent families with 20%children are nine times more likelyto be poor than families in whichthe parents are married. 15% The higher poverty rate amongsingle-mother families is due both 10%to the lower education levels of themothers and the lower income due 5% 3.5%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 2 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  4. 4. In Vermont, One-Third of All Families with Children Are Not Married Overall, married couples headabout two-thirds of families withchildren in Vermont. One-thirdare single-parent families. Unmarried Families 33.2% Married Families 66.8%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 3 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  5. 5. In Vermont, 80 Percent of Poor Families with Children Are Not Married Among poor families withchildren in Vermont, four in fiveare not married. By contrast, onlyone-fifth of poor families with Marriedchildren are headed by married Familiescouples. 19.9% Unmarried Families 80.1%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 4 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  6. 6. In Vermont, 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 3.8 percent of Age 18:out-of-wedlock births in Vermont 3.8%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. 17.6% 18–19: 13.7% Age 25–29: Age 24.4% 20–24: 40.5%Note: Figures have been rounded.Source: U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Chart 5 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  7. 7. Less-Educated Women Are More Likely to Give BirthOutside of Marriage Unwed childbearing occurs PERCENTAGE OF BIRTHS THAT ARE MARITALmost frequently among the OR OUT OF WEDLOCKwomen who will have the greatest 100% 9.6% Unmarrieddifficulty supporting children by 90% Mothersthemselves: those with low levelsof education. 40.0% 80% In Vermont, among women who 59.4%are high school dropouts, about 70%75.6 percent of all births occur 75.6% 60% Marriedoutside marriage. Among women 90.4%who have only a high school 50% Mothersdiploma, nearly six in ten birthsoccur outside marriage. By con- 40% 60.0%trast, among women with at least a 30%college degree, only 9.6 percent of 40.6%births are out of wedlock. 20% 10% 24.4% 0% High School High School Some College Mother’sSource: U.S. Department of Health and Dropout Graduate College Graduate educationHuman Services, Centers for Disease (0–11 (12 (13–15 (16+ levelControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata.  Years) Years) Years) Years) Chart 6 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  8. 8. Both Marriage and Education Are Highly Effectivein Reducing Child Poverty in Vermont The poverty rate of married PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES Poverty Rate of Families by WITH CHILDREN THAT Singlecouples with children is dramati- Education and Marital Status ARE POOR Marriedcally lower than the rate for house- of the Head of Householdholds headed by single parents. 60%This is true even when the marriedcouple is compared to single par- 49.3%ents with the same education level. 50% For example, in Vermont, thepoverty rate for a single mother 40%who has only a high school 31.8%diploma is 31.8 percent, but the 30% 29.3%poverty rate for a married couple 22.6%family headed by an individual 20%who, similarly, has only a highschool degree is far lower at 13.2%7.2 percent. 10% 7.2% 3.1% On average, marriage drops the 1.1%poverty rate by around 78 percent 0%among families with the same High School High School Some College Dropout Graduate College Graduateeducation level.Source: 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 7 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  9. 9. Unwed Birth Rates Vary Strongly by Race in Vermont In 2008 (the most recent year PERCENT OF BIRTHS THAT ARE OUT OF WEDLOCKfor which racial breakdown isavailable), nearly four in ten births 70%(38.8 percent) overall in Vermont 8.3%occurred outside marriage. 60% 56.0% Among white non-Hispanics,about four in ten births (39.1percent) occurred outside mar- 50%riage. This was the third-highestnon-marital birth rate among 38.8% 39.1% 40.2% 40%white non-Hispanic women in thenation. Among blacks, 40.2 percent of 30%births were to unmarried women.Among Hispanics, 56 percent of 20%births were out of wedlock. 10% 0%Source: U.S. Department of Health and All Races White Black HispanicHuman Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHS Non- Non-data. Hispanic Hispanic Chart 8 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  10. 10. Racial Composition of All Births and Out-of-Wedlock Births in Vermont In Vermont in 2008, some 95.1 ALL BIRTHS OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHSpercent of all births occurred tonon-Hispanic whites, 1.6 percentoccurred to non-Hispanic blacks,and 1.2 percent occurred to His-panics. The racial composition ofunwed births was nearly identical.In 2008, 95.9 percent of all non-marital births in Vermont were to 95.1% White Non- 95.9%non-Hispanic whites, 1.7 percent Hispanicwere to Hispanic women, and 1.6percent were to black non-Hispanic women. 2.1% Asian/Other 0.8% 1.6% Black Non-Hispanic 1.6%Source: U.S. Department of Health and 1.2% Hispanic 1.7%Human Services, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2008 NHSdata. Note: Figures have been rounded. Chart 9 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  11. 11. Non-Married White Families Are Nine Times More Likely to Be Poorin Vermont Marriage leads to lower poverty PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORrates for whites and Hispanics.* For example, in 2009, the pov- 30%erty rate for married white familiesin Vermont was 2.7 percent. Butthe poverty rate for non-married 25% 24.2%white families was nearly ninetimes higher at 24.2 percent. 20% 15% 10% 5% 2.7%* The black population in Vermont istoo small to provide reliable estimatesof poverty by family structure. 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 10 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  12. 12. Non-Married Hispanic Families Are Roughly 13 Times More Likelyto Be Poor in Vermont In 2009, the poverty rate for PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES THAT ARE POORHispanic married families in Ver-mont was 3.3 percent, while the 45% 42.3%poverty rate among non-marriedfamilies was nearly 13 times 40%higher at 42.3 percent. 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 3.3% 0% Married Families Non-Married FamiliesSource: U.S. Census Bureau, AmericanCommunity Survey, 2007–2009 data. Chart 11 • Marriage and Poverty in Vermont
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. 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 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 •