Monday, October 25, 2010

The vital role of marriage and the family in poverty reduction

The Heritage Foundation – a ‘think-tank’ in the United States – from time to time issues reports on various topics, from a traditional point of view. A recent such report considered the problem of poverty, and the effect of poverty on families. ‘Marriage remains America’s strongest anti-poverty weapon,’ the report states, ‘yet it continues to decline. As husbands disappear from the home, poverty and welfare dependence will increase, and children and parents will suffer as a result.’
Elsewhere, the report maintains that:
‘Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware of the principal cause: the absence of married fathers in the home. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for single parents with children in the United States in 2008 was 36.5 percent. The rate for married couples with children was 6.4 percent. Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent.’
The report continues:
‘Since marital decline drives up child poverty and welfare dependence, and since the poor aspire to healthy marriage but lack the norms, understanding, and skills to achieve it, it is reasonable for government to take active steps to strengthen marriage. Just as government discourages youth from dropping out of school, it should clearly and forcefully articulate the value of marriage. It should provide information that will help people to form and maintain healthy marriages and delay childbearing until they are married and economically stable. In particular, clarifying the severe shortcomings of the “child first, marriage later” philosophy to potential parents in lower-income communities should be a priority.
‘Marriage is highly beneficial to children, adults, and society; it needs to be encouraged and strengthened. Under current government policies, however, marriage is either ignored or undermined. This needs to change.’

Amen to that! The remarks quoted above could very well be applied to so many other counties today, particularly throughout Europe.