Marriage Does Matter

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Matthew Yglesias believes the decline of marriage is not a problem. There here are three reasons to think he is wrong.

1) The Brookings Institution report

On October 15, 2015, the Brookings Institution published the newest Future of Children report. They find, “Whereas most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes, there is less consensus about why.”

We don’t definitively know why marriage matters, but we know it does. Whether it promotes better parenting, brings in two incomes, have different attributes than non-married couples, or whatever the reason, we know that marriage somehow makes children better off. While no single one of these factors likely leads to better outcomes, there’s been “a growing appreciation of how these factors interact, and all of them appear to be involved.”

  1. The American Enterprise Institute report

While AEI is often seen as the conservative version of the Brookings Institution, they do agree on the issue of marriage. The report, “Strong Families, Prosperous States,” found that states with higher rates of marriage—and higher rates of married-parent families—were associated with more growth, more economic mobility, less child poverty, and higher median incomes.

Specifically, they find “[w]hen 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.”

These are huge differences, and serve to highlight how important the institution of marriage is to a functioning society—and it means the decline of marriage is very, very worrisome.

  1. The Northwestern University report

The report found that less-advantaged boys did worse in school than more-advantaged ones. This was not fully explained by differences in income. Part of the gap was because less-advantaged children were less likely to grow up in married households than more-advantaged ones.

Conclusion

Marriage does matter—and the evidence proves it. Answering the ‘why’ is much more difficult, but most social scientists have come to accept the conclusion that marriage matters due to the overwhelming evidence.

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