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Academics and experts from around the world warned UN delegates this week about the dangers of ignoring the family in governmental policies and programs while trying to achieve development.

The delegates were attending the World Family Policy Forum hosted by Brigham Young University and the World Family Policy Center.

Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre [CUA] presented a paper saying that “healthy families are essential for a country as they have a direct impact on human, moral and social capital, and therefore, on resource use, economic activity and economic structures.”

Aguirre’s research underscored both the economic and social consequences of family breakdown.

Abuse of women is 25 times more likely to occur in an irregular family.

Men who have witnessed domestic violence are 3 times more likely to abuse their own wives and children.

Women and children living in broken families have a higher probability of living in poverty.

The breakdown of the family thus costs governments by increasing social welfares expenditures.

Aquirre studied the relationship of wealth and family structure in Canada, Guatemala, and the United States – three countries with very different government systems – and found that across the board, families with parents in stable marriages did much better economically than any other domestic arrangement in terms of net wealth, savings, and property ownership.

Other presenters at the conference highlighted various societal implications of family breakdown such as the impact of divorce, the family in conflict situations, the lack of paternal involvement and its negative effect on children and the demographic consequences of fewer marriages and plummeting fertility.

In an address by satellite from Doha, Qatar, Professor Richard Wilkins, founder of the World Family Policy Center surmised:

“Despite the importance of the family, not enough private, academic, non-governmental and governmental energy has gone into the imagination and creation of a family-friendly modern world.

“This is an on-going tragedy because substantial evidence suggests that stable, well-functioning families are extraordinarily successful in reducing and even eliminating human suffering. The world needs policies to strengthen the family.”

The World Family Policy Forum was established in 1999 as a yearly meeting of concerned United Nations diplomats, opinion leaders, and scholars, focusing on international family policy issues.

Participants discuss emerging trends on such topics as the natural family, the United Nations, human rights, marriage, gender, children’s rights, and sovereignty. Dozens of senior UN diplomats attend each year.

A UN delegate and a first-time participant to the World Family Policy Forum told the Friday Fax, “This conference has provided me with information to bring back to the United Nations and will serve to help my country and my delegation to bring the family to the forefront of our policy discussions.

[13July07,; 13July07, By Samantha Singson]