Marrying for Money (a Guest Op-Ed)

Good grief.  I am FOR marriage.  I am FOR having babies.  I am FOR being above the poverty line.  I am AGAINST marrying (i.e. permanently hitching my wagon to another person by way of a solemn vow to my God) for the sake of a second income.

An op-ed by The Heritage Foundation is below, but I’d like to point out that having two incomes as opposed to one increases ANYone’s financial status.  Do you not think I would have more discretionary spending if I split my mortgage with someone instead of paying it by myself every month?

Marriage (and true love and a healthy, loving environment) is a beautiful thing.  Marriage for the sake of having two incomes is a weird roommate situation that’s even worse after the impending divorce and splitting of assets.

You know what keeps kids out of poverty??  A parent vowing “I will be successful and provide for my family” …and really meaning it.  No amount of policies will give someone grit.

Educate the young women.  Show them that their worth resides in their brain – not on their left ring finger and certainly not on a mattress.  You’re focusing on the wrong thing here.  Education and self-esteem cures all.

Happy Thursday,

Bridg

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Marriage Reduces Child Poverty in Georgia

By Robert Rector

The continuing collapse of marriage in America, along with a dramatic rise in births to single women, is the most important cause of childhood poverty. In Georgia, for example, seven of every 10 poor families with children are headed by a single parent, most of them mothers.

Only 7 percent of married couples with children were poor in Georgia in 2009, compared with over one-third of the single-parent families with children (38 percent). In Georgia, marriage drops the probability of a child’s living in poverty by 82 percent.

Such state numbers on marriage and poverty mirror the national ones. Ignoring the positive impact of marriage on children leads to faulty government policies. It’s tragic, really.

On Sept. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to release its annual poverty report. We’re likely to hear that more than 16 million children in America — about one in five — are poor. Clearly the current recession with its high unemployment pushed up these numbers. But the fact is the child poverty rate was high before the recession and will remain so after it ends.

In 2010, four of every 10 children born in Georgia were born outside marriage. Sadly, the women most likely to have children without being married are those with the least ability to support children financially on their own. More than two-thirds of births to women who are high school dropouts (69 percent) occur outside marriage. Among women who are college graduates, only 11 percent of births are out of wedlock.

America is splitting into two economic castes: In the top, children are raised by married couples with a college education. In the bottom, children are raised by single mothers with a high school diploma or less.

Policymakers at the state and national level, of course, know that education reduces poverty. But they’re largely unaware that marriage is an equally strong anti-poverty weapon. Remarkably, being married is as strong a factor in reducing poverty as graduating from high school. In Georgia, married couples with children are 78 percent less likely to be poor than single-parent families with the same level of education.

The nation wisely spends billions of dollars a year to educate low-income children, and billions more for means-tested welfare aid for single mothers. But, despite the massive impact of marriage in reducing poverty, government does little or nothing to discourage births outside marriage — and nothing to encourage healthy marriages.

Many common misconceptions persist. This isn’t about teen pregnancy: Most non-marital births occur to women in their early 20s. Girls under 18 account for only about eight of every 100 births outside marriage. Also, lack of access to birth control isn’t a significant factor.

Some claim unmarried fathers just aren’t “marriageable.” In fact, the overwhelming majority are. These fathers have jobs and, on average, have higher earnings than the mothers. If they remained in the home, child poverty would drop dramatically.

Are low-income single mothers hostile to marriage? No. Research shows most look quite favorably on the institution. They simply don’t see marriage as something that should come before the baby carriage. The result is sustained high levels of child poverty and a host of related social problems.

We need to develop new policies that build on these positive attitudes about marriage. Policymakers and ordinary citizens, looking at these numbers, should demand that government provide facts about the value of marriage to at-risk youth.

For instance, government ought to connect low-income couples with community resources to help them learn, or relearn, skills needed to build and sustain healthy marriages — before they bring children into the world.

It’s also imperative to reform the welfare system to encourage rather than penalize marriage.

Just as government discourages young people from doing drugs or dropping out of school, it should expose the severe shortcomings of the “child first, marriage later” philosophy — especially in low-income communities. Then we will begin to lift millions of children out of poverty.

Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty and the welfare system, is senior research fellow in domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation. He is author of the new report “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty with related papers and charts for Georgia and the other states.

 

21 comments

  1. Calypso says:

    Bridget, your third paragraph brings to mind a line from the oft married, therefore oft divorced, late, great Johnny Carson. In the aftermath of yet another expensive divorce, he said something to the effect of, “Instead of getting married again, I think I’ll just walk up to the next pretty woman I see in a bar and buy her a house.”

  2. greencracker says:

    Ah. This reminds me of “family values” circa, what was it, 1994? 1996?

    I don’t know what “family values” said, but as the child of a single mother and a loser deadbeat dad, what I heard was “divorced kids are going to fail, so couples ought to get/stay married.”

    The thing is, you wouldn’t say that to me and my mom if you knew my dad.

    To many, such advice sounds impractical at best. At worst, it sounds like women and children ought to swallow abuse.

    Once the child is there, and one — or both — biological parents turn out to be duds … well, the horse is out of the barn and all the preaching about family values won’t work.

    • saltycracker says:

      It’s a sensitive subject for most of us. But it should not detract from the idea/goal of family values. Divorce is hurtful and a lifelong burden on children. Most people get in a spouse the person they bargained for and were not able to change. Most children of divorce, with love, guidance and nuturing move into and through life just fine but they carry the scar and even some misguided guilt.

      We should push our children to be the best the can be and help them feel good about the effort, maintain their self-respect, enjoy their life, laugh and work hard enough to stay nearby but off the parental payroll.
      Family values will work, and sometimes better if you throw one off the train.

    • Ken says:

      Any time people are involved it’s going to be messy. Your mom was there and made a decision. You were there and made a decision. For all of us who weren’t there to help . . . I see no room to criticize.

  3. Rick Day says:

    The Patriarchy will never allow women to be educated unless they are dedicated to the perpetuation of the Patriarchy (see Hillary, Condie, Nancy et al).

    However, if one reads (as I did initially) this as an argument for gay marriage, I’d say U GO GIRL!

    Also, hetro marriage is typically more ‘three mouths to feed’ instead of ‘two incomes’. SIWK (single income with kids)Many marriages are arranged out of ‘convenience’ generated by unplanned pregnancy. Only homo marriage has the real probability of having a DINK (dual income no kids) family.

    Therefore if this argument is for gay marriage due to sound fiscal reasons, I say again U GO GIRL!

  4. Additional benefits of marriage include the option of family insurance policies rather than both spouses carrying their own, which should free up income for both purchases and savings. Filing joint tax returns also reduces taxes for married couples, again, putting more money in the pockets of married households.

    If Romney, Ryan, and their followers truly believe marriage is the way to financial stability, why not extend all the benefits and privileges of marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy to same sex couples? The result should be a reduction in poverty and demands for government resources as Rector argues occurs with marriages now dominated by heterosexual couples.

    • Rick Day says:

      You realize you just offered a sound, rational and reasonably fiscally conservative argument.

      Unfortunately it involved forcing good christians to fantasize about gay sex. Out goes the baby with the bathwater! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    • Stefan says:

      Truth. Also, based on my perusal of of a small sample of DFACS audits, the amount of money saved by allowing gay marriage and adoption by those gay parents would be a tidy sum.

    • Rick Day says:

      Allow me to clarify.

      Your first marriage is for love and making babbies. Our biological obligation.

      Your second and subsequent marriages are merely opportunities for improvement, moving your strategic planning from ‘in the now’ to ‘where are we going’. After the lust/love fades, you look at ‘how good a partner is this person going to be’. The desire to find mates that augment the partnership outweighs the ‘oh god I want to bang him/her SO HARD’ instincts.

      Is it wrong? From a poet’s point of view, it’s enough tragedy to keep them rich in tome cranking. In the 21st Century, with all the GOP nuts embedded locally and statewide, survival of the fittest, baby. Survival of the fittest.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        All I was talking about was where to look for love. Not doubletalk about the difficulty that marriage is!

        Bob Loblaw won’t practice divorce but refers such cases out. I do, however, write amazing prenups, gents, so if you’re in Mr. Day’s second stage, look me up!

  5. joe says:

    When I got married, part of the vow that I made said “until death we do part”. For somebody who does not take that vow seriously, and has multiple divorces, any other vow will also be non-serious. I cannot imagine that anybody whose word is no good will be much of a success in life.

      • joe says:

        You can only vote for those on the ballot, and you must pick one. Do I believe that somebody who won’t keep one vow will break others? Yes I do. Do you want to discuss “How do you tell when a politician is lying?”

  6. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Marriage for the sake of having two incomes is a weird roommate situation that’s even worse after the impending divorce and splitting of assets.”

    …Not-to-mention after one or both parties hires a hitman to help “take care” of their end-of-relationship problems.

  7. caroline says:

    I’m with you–education is the answer. And maybe we should not be making marriage a “goal” for people. Some people are just not meant to be married for a variety of reasons. There’s nothing wrong with never getting married and never having children but our society seems to think otherwise. I have one of these in my own family. He was married once and made the woman completely miserable. Another thing this piece missed is that BOTH people have to want to be married. It can’t just be one person that makes the marriage work.

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