Monday, October 26, 2015

States with high marriage rates are more prosperous, says study by conservative groups

States with higher rates of marriage are more likely to have stronger economic growth, economic mobility and mean family income and less child poverty and violent crime, says the report "Strong Families, Prosperous States," by conservative groups American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies.

"When we compare states in the top quintile of married-parent families with those in the bottom quintile, we find that being in the top quintile is associated with a $1,451 higher per capita GDP, 10.5 percent greater upward income mobility for children from lower-income families, a 13.2 percent decline in the child poverty rate and a $3,654 higher median family income," states the American Enterprise Institute. The violent crime rate also decreases from 563 violent crimes per every 100,000 residents for states in the bottom quintile to 343 for every 100,000 residents for states in the top quintile. (The highest changes in the rate of married adults from 1977 to 2013 was in largely rural states, led by Kentucky, Iowa, West Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin)

The percent of married adults has dropped in every state since the 1970s, states the report. "Less-educated Americans have been hit especially hard by the retreat from marriage in part because structural changes in the economy have lessened the economic security of working-class and poor men. Their wages are lower than they were in the 1970s, and since that time, their economic fortunes have declined relative to those of the women in their lives. These changes have rendered many men in poor and working-class communities less 'marriageable,' both in their own eyes and in the eyes of potential partners. By contrast, college-educated Americans—who benefit from more stable employment, higher incomes and more financial assets, all stabilizing factors in marriage and family life—have seen their divorce risk fall markedly since the 1980s and enjoy comparatively high levels of marital and family stability."

"The extent of the decline of marriage also varies by race," states the report. "African Americans have been buffeted by an ongoing legacy of racial discrimination and comparatively high levels of segregation, both of which strain marriages and families. Marriage patterns among Latinos are closer to the national average, though Latinos have somewhat higher rates of nonmarital childbearing and single parenthood than average. These economic and racial realities have left poor, working-class and minority families particularly vulnerable to the nation’s retreat from marriage."

Americans who have no religious affiliation or only rarely attend religious services are less likely to get married and more likely to get divorced if they do marry, states the report. "Likewise, Americans who adopt a more individualistic (and less familistic) ethos are less likely to form and maintain a stable, married family. We know, for example, that women who are more accepting of single parenthood as adolescents are more likely to have a child outside of wedlock and that Americans with a more progressive outlook are markedly less likely to be married." (States with the lowest percentage of children with married parents are West Virginia, Rhode Island, Nevada, Indiana and Georgia)

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