Studies - Cohabitation

Heritage Study Finds Marriage Would Reduce Poverty Rates For Unwed Mothers (6/03)

A 5-year ongoing study found that single mothers would see an increase of between $10,199 and $11,599 in median family income if they married the father of their child.

The researchers learned that almost 50% of the unwed couples are living together and an additional 23% are romantically involved; the fathers had median annual earnings of $17,500 and 67% had at least a high school degree. Welfare mothers who remain single will live in poverty 100% of the time, because welfare benefits do not lift a family out of poverty. “By contrast,” if the mother marries the child’s father, the poverty rate drops dramatically to 35%.” Feminists and some anti-poverty groups criticize the Bush administration’s effort to use welfare funds to encourage marriage, saying it “coercively intrudes on fundamentally private decisions.” [Heritage Foundation, “Fragile Families and Child Well-Being”; Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) conference on welfare reform May 28 Washington Times, 5-28-03; EF News & Notes, 13Jun03]