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December – November 2010: Marriage / Cohabitation With Children

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MARRIAGE TRENDS

NEW! Unmarried With Kids: A Shift In The Working Class

NEW! Fragile Families: Not Easy, But Essential

NEW! Marriage: Marginalized in the Middle

NEW! 'Lightning Divorces' Strike China's 'Me Generation'

NEW! Cohabitation Nation: Growing Trend Results in Declining Household Stability

Cohabitation and Children Outside Marriage Linked to Higher Probability of Breakups: Aussie Study (2010)

Cohabitation: A Trial Divorce

Marriage: An Important Key to Avoiding Poverty…

 

 

Marriage Trends

With the recently released PEW Study on America's views toward marriage and family, marriage has made headlines in national news over the past two weeks. One main finding in the study was that Americans still believe in marriage even though they are delaying getting married. The following articles discuss current marriage trends in America.

How Marriage Is Changing

The National Marriage Project's State of Our Unions report compares the health of marriages today with those of the 1970s. It finds a widening marriage gap between the working class and the college educated:

Divorce. Divorce rates are up slightly (from 36 percent to 37 percent) among those with only a high school diploma, but have dropped (from 15 percent to 11 percent) for the college educated.

Marital happiness. College-educated spouses are just as likely to say they are "very happy" in their marriages (69 percent), but the share among the high-school educated has dropped sharply (from 69 percent to 57 percent).

Nonmarital births. The number of nonmarital births is up sharply for both groups. It's only a sliver among the college educated (from 2 percent to 6 percent) but a large share among those with a high school diploma only (from 13 percent to 44 percent). http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131675435/unmarried-with-kids-a-shift-in-the-working-class
 

Delayed Marriage
The following article shows a cultural shift in how more Americans are cohabiting and having children before marriage as numbers show more less-educated Americans choose to cohabitate and have children without tying the knot.

As Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project reports, this is a dangerous trend because cohabiting couples with a child are twice as likely to break up by the time their child is five years old, leaving the child without both parents.

There seems to be such a fear of marriage. Couples understandably don’t want to get divorced and that makes them fearful of marriage.

Marriage is a commitment and something to be taken seriously. However, living together and having children without being married is a dangerous road that often leads to heartbreak and unfulfilled relationships without a clear commitment to work through the difficult times.

Unmarried With Kids: A Shift In The Working Class

The path to adulthood used to be clear — love, marriage, baby carriage — and no one embodied that more than America's working class. But today, for those with only a high school education, that order no longer holds; in fact, a new study suggests that marriage is foundering in Middle America.

Andrew Felices, 26, and Mellissa Giles, 27, are this new face of the American family. They've been living together since before their son, A.J., was born. He's 2 1/2 now, and he shrieks gleefully as he sprawls on the basement floor with dad, building a train track. The couple bought a cozy condo in Frederick, Md., last summer. A home, a child — but neither is in any rush to tie the knot.

"We're still young," Mellissa says. We're enjoying the time as it is."

What's important, says Andrew, is "having your life the way you want it, your lifestyle in place. Getting married is really the cherry on top."

Andrew and Mellissa are part of a huge shift. A new study by the National Marriage Project finds 44 percent of those with high school diplomas but no college degrees now have children without being married. That's more than triple what it was in the 1970s. And we're not talking teen mothers; half of those nonmarital births were to couples living together.

Many are in their 20s or 30s and, like Mellissa and Andrew, welcome a child. But marriage?

"A lot of people, I think, see marriage as a piece of paper," says Mellissa. "A piece of paper that costs a lot of money to change." She laughs and explains that she means divorce.

[chart]
Unmarried Women Having Children On The Rise
Percentage of births to never-married women 15-44 years old, by education and year
Source: National Surveys of Family Growth / National Marriage Project
Credit: Nelson Hsu/NPR

Like many children of the 1980s, Mellissa's parents split when she was young. She's wary, and she knows that a big factor in divorce can be money problems. She and Andrew have decent, full-time jobs. She manages a big-box store, and he processes auto insurance claims. But financially speaking, there's not much wiggle room.

"For me," says Andrew, "it feels unsafe heading into a marriage, where two people rely on each other, to go into it unprepared. In my family, my mother never worked, and my dad's income was always very suffic

ient to support our family. I'd like to model that in my life."

The trouble is, that's become a lot harder to do without a college degree. Time was, a man could go from high school to a well-paying, secure factory job. No more.

And Brad Wilcox, who heads the National Marriage Project, says that for three decades, men especially have seen their wages stagnate.

"And that makes them less attractive both in their eyes and in the eyes of their partners, as husbands," says Wilcox. "Both in terms of thinking about getting married, but also in terms of staying married."

Wilcox's study finds divorce up among the working class, even as it's fallen for the college educated. The recession, he says, has only exacerbated the problem, hitting lower-wage jobs hardest.

Culturally, it's certainly much more acceptable to have children without being wed. But there's still an argument for marriage: Wilcox says unmarried parents are more than twice as likely to break up by the time their child is 5.

Since the 1960s, Wilcox notes, there's been concern about the breakdown of family among the poor and African-Americans. "What's happened now," he says, "is that retreat from marriage has moved up the social ladder into the heart of American life, into Middle America."

Wilcox worries: Could marriage become a privilege only for the educated elite?

But wait a minute. If financial concerns are keeping people from getting married, the logic doesn't hold. Isn't a child more expensive than a spouse?

"A child is more expensive," says Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist and author of The Marriage Go-Round. "What I think is happening is that a lot of young adults these days think that having a kid is absolutely necessary and something you don't put off until someday in the future when you might be able to marry."

But, Cherlin says — and polls confirm — young adults do want to marry.

"I want to have that beautiful gown, and all the family, and toasts with champagne," says Melissa Ethridge of Austin, Texas.

She was engaged when she became pregnant. But a wedding fell by the wayside as she and her boyfriend dropped out of college, moved closer to family and were overwhelmed with the costs of raising a child. Their son is now 4, and they're separating. Ethridge says people would ask why they didn't just get a marriage license at the courthouse.

"It may have made a difference as far as us staying together," she muses. "Maybe we would have tried harder, I'm not sure."

As for the couple in Maryland, Andrew and Mellissa, they've decided a college degree is a must to have the family life they desire. They'll have to squeeze in classes around work. Andrew hopes to get a promotion with tuition reimbursement. Perhaps then, they say, with degrees in hand, it will be the right time to marry.
[December 6, 2010, Jennifer Ludden, NPR Morning Edition, http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131675435/unmarried-with-kids-a-shift-in-the-working-class]

Fragile Families

Marybeth Hicks addresses the issue of children born to cohabiting couples, labeled "fragile families."

She says it best when she states, "The decline of traditional marriages and the families on which they are built is taking an economic, social and spiritual toll on our nation. Reigniting our culture's commitment to commitment – even one that is truly daunting – is the key to revitalizing our families and communities."

Not Easy, But Essential

Marriage is hard.

That's what I told the guy sitting next to me on the plane yesterday when he explained that he and his bride of less than a year have split up, despite the birth several weeks ago of their son.

That's what I told a girlfriend in an email, and another over lunch recently when she share her fear that she and her husband might not make it through a rocky patch.

That's what I tell myself on any given day, and what I remind my husband when we try one another's patience or expect special skills that simply don't exist. Like mind reading.

Lifelong marriage – once a goal held in the hearts of every newlywed couple – no longer is an expectation even for those who enter the bonds of matrimony with the best of intentions. That is, if they enter matrimony at all.

Two recent studies reveal some startling realities about the state of marriage in America and the trends that impact families, children and the communities we share.

The journal The Future of Children, a collaboration of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Brookings Institution, devotes its most recent issue to the subject of "fragile families," defined as families that are formed when children are born of unmarried couples. In the first comprehensive, longitudinal study of such families, a disconcerting picture emerges. Among the findings contained in the journal's summary:

*At the time of their child's birth, most parents in fragile families are romantically involved and have high hopes that they will get married; most, however, are not able to establish stable unions or long-term co-parenting relationships.

*Both mothers and fathers in fragile families have low earnings capacities stemming from low- quality education and from physical, emotional, and mental health problems.

*The capabilities and contributions of unwed fathers fall short of those of married fathers and differ in important ways by the kind of relationship the fathers have with their child's mother.

*Children who grow up in single-mother and cohabiting families fare worse than those born into married-couple households, although being raised by stable single or cohabiting parents seems to entail less risk than being raised by single or cohabiting parents when these family types are unstable.  http://townhall.com/columnists/MarybethHicks/2010/12/01/not_easy,_but_essential
 

 

 

 

Comment: Here is another great [faith-based] article on the same study relating to the consequences of delayed marriage that include: delayed maturity, reports of being less happy, higher divorce rates when cohabiting couples do marry and increased use of welfare programs.

Marriage: Marginalized in the Middle
The American retreat from marriage is moving into the heart of the social order: the middle class.

Marriage is in trouble in Middle America. High rates of divorce, nonmarital childbearing and single parenthood were once problems primarily concentrated in poor communities. Now, the American retreat from marriage is moving into the heart of the social order: the middle class.

This retreat from marriage imperils the social and emotional welfare of children. It also threatens the American Dream, insofar as adults who do not get and stay married are less likely to strive, to succeed and to save for the future.

This stark assessment emerges from a new report, When Marriage Disappears: The Retreat from Marriage in Middle America, sponsored by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the New York-based Institute for American Values.

The report explores marriage trends among three segments of American society: high school dropouts (12 percent of the adult population), those with high school diplomas who didn't go on to college (58 percent o

f adults) and college-educated men and women (30 percent).    

These segments of society reveal sharp differences in the marriage experience, and expectations for it. But the most striking finding is this: Marriage has declined most precipitously among the "moderately educated"—that is, those with a high school education, who make up the biggest number of adults.

The breakdown of marriage and family has afflicted the poorest Americans for more than a generation. What is happening today is a widening gulf between the middle class, where a sharp decline in marriage is at work, and the most educated and affluent Americans, where marriage indicators are either stable or improving.

Many of us need to adjust our thinking to recognize that the greatest threat to marriage may be the shrinking commitment of couples in middle class havens such as Wichita, Kansas, or Greenfield, Mass., not in rich enclaves such as Grosse Pointe, Mich., or blighted neighborhoods such as East St. Louis. Not surprisingly, the dangers posed by a class-based disappearance of marriage also have implications for the decline of religious belief and worship, as well as beliefs about the moral or cultural underpinnings of family life.         

Just as getting married changes individuals, failing to marry delays or defers personal maturity. For earlier generations, marriage functioned as a gateway to acceptance of adult responsibilities and habits—including attendance of religious services—that reinforce those responsibilities.  Narrowing or closing that gateway has profound effects.

Take this example: The divorce rate, as measured within 10 years of marriage, fell from 15 percent to 11 percent among college-educated adults between the early 1970s and late 1990s. But the divorce rate rose from 36 percent to 37 percent in the same period among those with a high school education, putting it slightly higher than the 36 percent rate among the least-educated Americans.

Trends in marital happiness are similar. From the 1970s until recent years, the number of spouses between ages 18 and 60 who reported being "very happy" in marriage dropped from 68 percent to 57 percent among moderately educated Americans. Those saying they were "very happy" dipped from 59 percent to 52 percent among the least-educated, while there was no drop in marital happiness among the highly educated.    

More starkly, the proportion of moderately educated adults who are in their first marriages declined from 73 percent in the 1970s to 45 percent in the 2000s. For this education and income range, marriage is now a minority experience.  [W. Bradford Wilcox and Chuck Donovan | posted 12/06/2010,
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/decemberweb-only/58-11.0.html ]
http://www.jaxpastorsconference.com/ct

 

 

 

MARRIAGE TRENDS IN CHINA
POSTED: NOV 23, 2010

This is a very interesting article that addresses the one-child policy generation in China. The author, along with a few of the people interviewed, believe the single-child generation makes for a selfish generation that is too independent to have lasting marriages. One in every five Chinese marriages ends in divorce which is double the rate ten years ago with expectations that this number will continue to increase.

There are many factors that go into this high rate of divorce trend in China, but this theory is interesting food for thought when thinking about marriage. Anyone who is married will say it takes compromise, sacrifice and communication to make it work.

'Lightning Divorces' Strike China's 'Me Generation'
 
Chinese newlyweds pose during a collective wedding ceremony in Shanghai
Enlarge Zhang Jinqiao/Imaginechina via AP

Chinese newlyweds pose during a collective wedding ceremony in Shanghai in November 2009. But just as fast as young Chinese couples are meeting and marrying, a mix of social and economic reasons are leading to equally quick divorces.

Chinese newlyweds pose during a collective wedding ceremony in Shanghai in November 2009. But just as fast as young Chinese couples are meeting and marrying, a mix of social and economic reasons are leading to equally quick divorces.

One in every five Chinese marriages now ends in divorce, double the rate a decade ago.

Beijing has the highest divorce rate nationwide, with 39 percent of all marriages ending in a split.

This trend is sparking concern. Experts fear that the divorce rate will continue to soar, particularly among the younger generation of Chinese born under the country's one-child policy and during China's explosive economic growth.

Six years ago, one of China's most popular soap operas was called Chinese-Style Divorce. It was the tale of a struggling couple, wracked by financial stresses and misunderstandings that were never addressed. The cracks in their relationship grew into a gulf, then their marriage fell apart.

Six years on, that is not the story of today's Chinese-style divorces. For China's "me generation," the latest trend is "lightning weddings" — or instantaneous weddings — which often end in correspondingly fast divorces.

The story told by a vivacious 24-year-old reflects the new trend.

'Married In A Hurry, Divorced In A Hurry'

"We'd known each other three weeks when we went to get a wedding certificate," says the woman, who will only give her name as Cheng. "We were married for six months. We got married in a hurry, and we got divorced in a hurry. It was like a war broke out; we argued, divorce was mentioned, so we got divorced."

Sitting at an outdoor coffee shop, Cheng is eye-catching in brown shorts and knee-high black stiletto boots. She says she has thought a lot since her divorce. She partly blames it on belonging to the generation of spoiled singletons, known in China as the post-1980s generation.

"Marriage requires forgiveness, understanding, tolerance and compromise. Yet we post-'80s generation neglect this entirely. No one will compromise. We just argue. Of all my friends who are married, 100 percent are unhappy," she says.
Li Xuefeng, a 31-year-old divorced man, has set up an online club for those whose marriages have failed
Enlarge Louisa Lim/NPR

Li Xuefeng, a 31-year-old divorced man, has set up Happy Divorce Village, an online club for those whose marriages have failed. He says marriages often fall apart over little things, like who should do the cooking or laundry.

Li Xuefeng, a 31-year-old divorced man, has set up Happy Divorce Village, an online club for those whose marriages have failed. He says marriages often fall apart over little things, like who should do the cooking or laundry.

When asked whether the single-child generation is too selfish for marriage, her answer is telling.

"Next time I'll look for a husband with siblings," Cheng says.

The One-Child Policy

The figures seem to suggest that might not be a bad idea.

Divorces last year were up 8.8 percent compared with 2008. Statistics from one Beijing district court last year showed the divorce rate among the under-30s had doubled annually over the past five years, with 97 percent of the couples being only children.

Many working in marital counseling blame the lack of responsibility shown by the spoiled one-child generation.

Shu Xin is the founder of Weiqing Divorce Club in Shanghai, a divorce counseling business. He coun

seled one couple who fell out over what furniture they should buy for their new apartment. They decided to file for divorce just one week after getting married.

But Shu believes the root causes are deeper, involving emotional and financial calculations.

"This generation is very self-centered, very independent," Shu says. "And they have high expectations as to cost and return. They think, 'I've paid out, so you have to love me.' "

Money Complicates Marriage

Some experts blame financial considerations — and the rising price of housing — as factors behind the surge in lightning marriages, and lightning divorces.

Given these money worries, young people may see economic benefits of moving in together as soon as possible, to get out of the parental home and to save money. Even after marriage, many couples remain financially dependent on their parents, causing more problems.

Cheng admits this was one factor in her divorce.

"After we got married, we just spent his parents' money," she complains. "I wasn't really satisfied, but I was a good wife. So I didn't argue with him because we didn't have money."

In cases where the couple has had children, that sense of cold pragmatism, combined with the one-child policy, results in custody disputes.

But there's a twist: In a surprising number of cases, that precious only child is unwanted, says divorce counselor Ming Li.

"Often neither of them wants the child. They want to remarry and have another child to give stability to the new marriage. It's very selfish. That makes up about a third of all cases we see of the post-'80s generation," Ming says.

An Upside To Divorce?

Li Xuefeng's mission is to make life a little happier for those struggling through a divorce. The 31-year-old is the founder of Happy Divorce Village, an online club that organizes events for those who have been through a divorce.

Li has heard a lot of stories. He thinks the cosseted young find it difficult to cope on their own; and in this materialistic world, few can resist the temptation to trade up.

"They think about coming home, and nobody is making supper for them, and then they throw their clothes on the floor, and nobody washes them, and so they start arguing over little things. Then they look around, and wonder whether if so-and-so might be better than their current spouse," Li says.

Experts predict the numbers of divorces in China will soar in the years ahead. But, there is also an upside to the trend.

Until eight years ago, a married couple needed permission from their work unit to divorce, and many stayed in unhappy relationships for decades, scared of social ostracism.

Unlike their parents' generation, young Chinese dare to fall in and out of love; they're reveling in these newfound freedoms, even the freedom to divorce.
[November 17, 2010, Louisa Lim, NPR All Things Considered, http://www.npr.org/2010/11/09/131200166/china-s-me-generation-sends-divorce-rate-soaring]

 

 

Cohabitation Nation: Growing Trend Results in Declining Household Stability
Janice Shaw Crouse explores the myths of cohabitation, the “trial marriage” of today’s society. Unfortunately this test drive sort of mentality does not work as studies show a typical cohabiting relationship lasts only about 18 months and there are extremely high divorce rates of those who did cohabitate before marriage. Marriage is more than a piece of paper. Despite the trend to delay marriage, most singles do desire marriage. For the most fulfilling and stable relationship, a couple should wait until marriage to have sex and be faithful within marriage.

Cohabitation Nation: Growing Trend Results in Declining Household Stability
Acccording to the latest census report, the num- ber of cohabiting couples escalated from 6.7 million in 2009 to 7.5 million just one year later.

Living together has become today's "normative experience," with nearly 50 percent of young adults aged 20 to 40 cohabiting. Moreover, the percentage of women in their late 30s who said they had cohabited at least once reached 48 percent in 1995. While increasingly common among college students and young professionals – even Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton, who have just announced their engagement, have been living together in Wales – cohabitation is significantly more prevalent among those who are less well-educated and poor.

For many American young people, cohabitation is considered to be a low-cost, no-hassle alternative to marriage, a "test-drive" in some cases or, more often, merely an exciting fling of no great consequence.

Sadly, they have bought into the seductive cohabitation mythology. It is commonplace to hear them parroting the following specious arguments: (1) Living together is a "trial marriage" to "test the waters" to see if the couple is "compatible." (2) Young couples cannot afford to get married; they need to wait until they are financially secure and their careers are well-established. (3) A girl should be able to have the big, expensive wedding that fulfills her childhood dreams. And on and on the deceptive fable gets spun.

Many blame the current economy for the drastic increase in cohabitation (a 13 percent rate that will double the numbers in just six years) – and it is true that there was a 10 percentage point increase in the number of unemployed men who chose to cohabit instead of get married (14 percent in 2009 versus 24 percent in 2010). However, the problem began long before today's recession.

There has been a dramatic increase (skyrocketing nearly 1,000 percent since 1970) in couples who live together without marriage, and currently, nearly two-thirds of couples who get married have already lived together before their wedding.

The trend toward cohabitation is producing a cultural transformation that has profound ramifications for both individuals and communities. Young people have been told that having sex is "no big deal"; therefore, moving in and living together without a commitment (aka no strings attached) is more prevalent, as is an accompanying casual acceptance of recreational sex.

Of American women born before 1963, fewer than half experienced premarital sex in their teen years, but like so many other measures of sexual activity, the number engaging in premarital sex jumped dramatically among those born in the 1990s.

The truth is that only a fraction – barely 10 percent – of cohabiting couples are able to move on to build strong, happy marriages that last a lifetime.

More typically, cohabitation is preparation for divorce rather than training for marriage.

The two household arrangements (cohabitation and marriage) are decidedly different, and that is why the vast majority of couples who live together before getting married end up divorced; the divorce rates of women who cohabit are nearly 80 percent higher than the rates of those who do not.

Consequently, the majority of cohabiting relationships do not end in marriage, as previously was the case. During the 1970s, about 60 percent of cohabiting couples married each other within three years, but this proportion has since declined to less than 40 percent. The research shows that cohabiting relationships in the United States tend to be fragile and relatively short in duration; fewer than half of cohabiting relationships last five or more years. Typically, living-together relationships last about 18 months.

There are those who see no problem with t

his change in household arrangement and family structure. They argue that the quality of relationships in a household is more important than the "piece of paper" that constitutes, in their minds, the only difference between marriage and cohabitation. Family structure, in other words, is irrelevant in their view.

But they fail to take into account the interaction that exists between the forms of relationship – particularly the degree of commitment expressed from the beginning – and the quality of the relationship the couple builds based on their commitment to each other.

Our present situation is a product of a tangle of factors that have brought us to the point where more and more young people, because they have seen too much divorce and too many miserable marriages, do not believe in lasting love or in marriage.

Neil Clark Warren, co-founder of the online dating service eHarmony, interviewed 500 persons, asking them to tell him about the marriage they most admired. Nearly half could not recommend even one healthy, exemplary marriage.

Little wonder today's youth are trying to find an alternative to bad marriages, but they need to look at the evidence. University of Michigan researcher Pamela Smock warns: "Premarital cohabitation tends to be associated with lower marital quality and increased risk of divorce."

Marriage Savers, founded by Mike and Harriett McManus, is having incredible success in changing community attitudes and teaching young people the value of embracing marriage rather than settling for living together, with its predictable negative outcomes.

In the first 114 cities where they have worked with local pastors to change attitudes, cohabitation rates have fallen by one-third, compared to the rates in similar cities in the same state. In addition, marriage rates have gone up, and divorce rates have declined.

As the world focuses on the upcoming marriage of Prince William and Miss Middleton, young people would do well to look at the evidence and agree that marriage is the best, time-tested household arrangement for both men and women and especially for children.

Within the committed bonds of marriage, couples have their best hope for the kind of close and fulfilling relationship that most young people say they want…
For remainder of article, visit http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/20/cohabitation-nation/
[Janice Shaw Crouse, The Washington Times, November 20, 2010, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/20/cohabitation-nation/ ; abstinence.net, 23 Nov 2010]

 

 

 

 

 

Cohabitation and Children Outside Marriage Linked to Higher Probability of Breakups: Aussie Study

Second marriages are more than 90% more likely to break up than first marriages, according to a new study by Australian researchers. The researchers also found that cohabiting, having children before marrying, and an imbalance between partners in the desire for children are all correlated with marital breakup.

“The overwhelming bulk of research on cohabitation and marital instability finds that cohabitation before marriage is linked to a greater probability that the marriage will fail,” said the researchers.

The study, titled “What’s Love Got to do With It?” by researchers from the Australian National University, found that 20% of couples who had children before marriage, either from a previous relationship or the same relationship, were separated compared to just 9% of couples without children born before marriage.

With data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), the study tracked the history of 2,482 married or cohabiting couples over a period of six years to determine what factors might have contributed to marital “instability.”

A family history of divorce was also found to be a significant influence in the success of failure of marriage. Sixteen percent of men and women whose parents were separated or divorced suffered marital separation, compared to 10% for those whose parents did not separate.

Despite research in the UK showing marriages with more children being more likely to break up, the number or age of children born within the marriage were found not to be a factor in marital breakups in the Australian study.

Other factors listed as contributing to divorce or breakup were “dissatisfaction with the relationship, low household income, husband is unemployed, wife drinks more than her husband, and one spouse smokes where the other does not.”

[23 June 2010, Hilary White, http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/jun/10062305.html ]

 

 

COHABITATION: A TRIAL DIVORCE
[19 Oct 2010, http://www.ethicsandreligion.com/current.htm, OCT 25, 2010, www.abstinence.net]

According to studies on cohabitation, nine out of ten cohabitating relationships fail and 61% of marriages that began with cohabitation end in divorce.

Mike McManus of Marriage Savers suggests that if he were running for governor in his state of Maryland, he could save taxpayers $640 million per year in expenses due to out-of-wedlock births. Another $304 million per year could be saved by discouraging divorce. McManus would create a marriage commission, require welfare offices to provide education on the benefits of marriage, and reduce anti-marriage penalties.
October 19, 2010

Column #1521

Incentives for Cohabiting Couples To Marry

By Mike McManus

            If I were running for governor in my state of Maryland, here’s a speech I would give this weekend, injecting a fresh idea into the campaign.

“I will propose a new law to encourage cohabiting couples to marry.  Most out-of-wedlock births are to couples who are committed enough to each other to live together.  These births are not to couples in one-night stands.  However, most cohabitations end within 18 months.

“Census recently reported that 7.5 million couples are living together in 2010.  This is a 17-fold increase from the 430,000 who were doing so in 1960.  Yet only 1.4 million of those couples will marry.  Four of five cohabiting couples break up before there is a wedding.

“In addition, according to a Penn State study, couples who marry after living together are 61% more likely to divorce than couples who remained apart until the wedding.

“Half of cohabiting couples  said they were `testing’ the relationship or were in a `trial marriage.’”  However, that’s a myth.  Cohabitation is more like a trial divorce, in which nine out of ten relationships fail.  They will either break up in a premarital divorce or in a real one.

“For Maryland this is not an academic question.  Divorce and unwed births are the two engines driving up the costs of government.  It is one of the major reasons for the yawning deficits Maryland and other states face.

On average, each divorce involves one child. The unwed or divorced mother of a child is eligible for welfare, Medicaid, housing and day care subsidies, food stamps, etc.  According to the Heritage Foundation, the 13 million single parents with children cost taxpayers $20,000 each, or $260
billion in 2004. That is probably $300 billion today.

“What does this mean for Maryland?  Of the state’s 78,100 births in 2007, 41% were to unwed mothers, above the national average.  Those 32,000 babies have the worst possible future prospects in life.  If the baby’s father is living with the mother, the odds are 80% that he will leave her and the child.  But what if the couple marries?  More than half will divorce, and that child will be abandoned by one parent.  Maryland had 15,200 divorces last year, which probably involved one child each.

“Therefore taxpayers face a cost of $640 million a year for one year of out-of-wedlock births and $304 million more per year for the state’s divorces, or about $1 billion for each added year!  These huge costs are 61% federal and 39% state.

“The costs go far beyond these numbers, both to the children and to the state. According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, children from fatherless homes are:

·         5 times more likely to commit suicide than those from intact homes with married parents

·         7 times more apt to become teenage mothers or to drop out of school

·         15 times more apt to end up in prison as a teenager

·         33 times more likely to be seriously abused, requiring medical attention

·         73 times more likely to be killed

“If elected Governor, I will make it my priority to reduce this carnage.  How?  Here are some ideas:

1.      I will create a Maryland Marriage Commission.  It will include key church and government officials plus leaders in the marriage movement.

2.      No Cost Government Measures: I will require state welfare offices to provide information on the value of marriage in reducing poverty and increasing wealth, happiness and longer lives. (For example, married men live 10 years longer than single men, and women, 4 years longer.) Publicly funded birth control clinics will provide information on the benefits of marriage. Public schools can make a case for not having children until marriage.

3.      Reduce Anti-Marriage Penalties:  Currently if cohabiting couples marry, they lose welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies, etc. I propose to extend state benefits for a year if they marry and agree to take courses to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills.  That will encourage many to marry, which is what is best for them and their children.  After that year, I will taper off subsidies by 25% per year.  Since married men earn more than single men, they won’t need subsidies long term.

“In time, government costs would drop by huge amounts, perhaps half of the current outlays, saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars…

               Visit http://www.ethicsandreligion.com/current.htm to read remainder of article.

[19 Oct 2010, http://www.ethicsandreligion.com/current.htm, OCT 25, 2010, www.abstinence.net]

 

 

 

MARRIAGE : PROMOTE MARRIAGE TO FIGHT POVERTY

The evidence is clear: having a baby outside of marriage increases the likelihood of living in poverty. The growing trend of sex outside of marriage results in other negative outcomes as well: STD’s, depression, partner violence, substance abuse, lower graduation rates, and child care expenses. The author of this article urges the readers to think twice about supporting the expansion of welfare programs and instead to promote marriage. In fact, the article states that marriage lowers the probability of child poverty by 82%.

We conclude that abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage are the behaviors and attitudes that our society should strive for. A welfare program is not going to fix the poverty problem but rather changes in attitudes and behaviors will certainly make a difference.

Marriage: An Important Key to Avoiding Poverty
By Jennifer A. Marshall, The Heritage Foundation

For years, the slogan "Stay in School" has communicated an anti-poverty message to young people. Now it's time for an even more important poverty-fighting theme: "Get Married." Every student knows that dropping out of high school will hurt her chances of succeeding in life. Major media, public education campaigns and government programs have told her so.

But does she know that having a baby outside marriage will put her and her child at serious risk of living in poverty? Last year, poverty in America grew more than ever before in the 51 years that the U.S. government has tracked the poor, the Census Bureau reported Sept. 16. The total climbed by 3 million to 44 million — or one in seven Americans.

The search is on for solutions. Regrettably, too little of the conversation is turning to the principal cause of child poverty: the collapse of marriage.

Waiting until marriage to have children is the second of three "golden rules" for avoiding poverty that researchers identified over the years: (1) graduate from high school; (2) marry before having children; and (3) get a job.

Actually, being married is even more significant than graduating from high school for avoiding poverty. Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, shows this in a new paper, "Marriage: America's No. 1 Weapon Against Child Poverty." By contrast, typical responses to poverty call for more spending on government programs. Far from helping poor Americans escape dependency, however, massive increases in welfare spending over the past four decades have entrenched poverty across generations.

Proponents of a government solution also cite lack of quality education and decent-paying jobs. True, inner-city schools often are appallingly sub-par, but ever-increasing spending hasn't significantly improved educational quality and opportunity for those who need it most.

And although the bad news on poverty in part reflects increased joblessness during the recession, the economy doesn't explain the undercurrents trapping millions in persistent poverty. Three of every four Americans defined as poor — 35 million of the 44 million total — are poor during economic booms, Rector notes.

Government anti-poverty programs fail because such persistent poverty is not primarily material. It's about relationships and behavior. Even in good times, fatherlessness and lack of work trap the underclass.

Unwed childbearing has risen from 6.3 percent of all births in 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty, to more than 40 percent today. As Rector shows, these single-parent families with children are six times more likely to be poor than are married couples with kids. Put differently, marriage lowers the probability of child poverty by 82 percent.

So why have we ignored the obvious? After all, marriage has been the standard in every human society.

From the archive

    * Census: 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty – Sept. 16, 2010
    * Record ris

e in poverty for U.S. – Sept. 11, 2010
    * U.S. poverty on track to post record gain in 2009 – Sept. 11, 2010
    * Robert J. Samuelson: New poverty 'definition' is misleading – May 31, 2010
    * Jennifer A. Marshall: Marriage in America is dying – May 9, 2010

"Marriage is the way societies provide a map of life and norms about behavior," researcher Kay Hymowitz says.

Role models and explicit messages create norms in society. That's why it's troubling to see the emergence of a "pattern of family non-formation," as scholar Heather MacDonald describes it.

Hymowitz and MacDonald, both affiliated with the Manhattan Institute, were among leaders invited by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to participate in a conference recently in Washington, by addressing the topic of "The Role of Family Structure in Perpetuating Racial and Ethnic Disparities." In minority communities, the collapse of marriage has become especially acute. More than half of Hispanic children are born to single mothers, as are seven out of 10 black children.

Among Hispanics, families headed by unmarried parents are three times more likely to be poor.

For blacks, these families are five times more likely to be poor.

Meanwhile, the growing trend is "multi-partner fertility"—an antiseptic term to describe the relational mess of women having children by more than one man.

The Commission on Civil Rights deserves credit for tackling a subject too long considered off-limits. With lives at stake, America cannot afford to ignore these plain facts any longer.

How can we restore a cultural consensus on marriage and reduce child poverty? Rector suggests seven ideas. Among them: Policymakers should reduce anti-marriage penalties in welfare programs. Welfare offices and federally funded birth control clinics should provide facts about the value of marriage in fighting poverty.

And, in low-income neighborhoods and schools with a high proportion of at-risk youth, public education campaigns should teach the benefits of marriage.

If we're asking fathers not to walk away from their children, Americans must not walk away from the difficult task of restoring a culture of marriage.

Jennifer A. Marshall is director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation and author of "Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the Twenty-First Century."
[17 Oct 2010, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700073964/Marriage-an-important-key-to-avoiding-poverty.html?pg=1 and http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700073964/Marriage-an-important-key-to-avoiding-poverty.html?pg=2;  OCT 25, 2010, www.abstinence.net]