Noted sociologists and researcher Glen T. Stanton released his finding that marriage has a direct and discernable correlation to families escaping poverty.
Stanton, the highly regarded director of Family Formation Studies for Focus on the Family, reviewed and analyzed contemporary research literature that points to marriage as a primary contributor to the financial well-being. Marriage, he concluded, stands as the main differences between poor households and comfortable to wealthy ones. Unfortunately, the rate of marriage continues to decline and the results appear to be having a profound impact on the welfare of American children.
According to Stanton’s findings, marriage is suffering a downward trend among those in the middle and lower income brackets. A once vibrant rate of marriage in these economic groups has slipped to 48 percent. This stands in stark contrast to wealthy families that continue to post high marriage rates.
The growth in single-parent households, as a result, “accounts for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since the early 1970s,” according to author and public policy critic Jonathan Rauch. While the findings are troubling, they are not a new phenomenon. Sociologists such as William Galston agree with Rauch’s position dating back to the early 1990s.
Galston, the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, pointed out that climbing out of poverty often meant taking the path to marriage.
To escape and stay out of poverty, Americans needed to do three basic things: Finish high school, get married and wait until after 20 years old to have a child. Today, only 8 percent of all Americans who follow these tenets end up poor. Galston also indicates that 79 percent of those who break all three rules sentence themselves to poverty.
While America has seen a wide disparity in economic wealth since the 1990s, Galston says that following these three life-rules remains a firm “success-sequence.” The Focus on the Family researcher agrees with the Brookings Institute scholar.
Marriage provides “extraordinary economic power,” Stanton reportedly said. “It boosts every important measure of well-being for women, children and men.” He points out that those measures would include not only income, but also health, educational success, wellness and a healthy diet.
Working class females are far more likely to become single mothers than their wealthy counterparts. Economically poor women have children outside marriage at a rate five times higher than wealthy mothers. Both poor groups have a higher rate of cohabitation. But living together has had little positive impact in terms of child poverty. Single mothers and those that cohabitate suffer similar economic plights.
Left-leaning critics have attempted to argue that the marriage-wealth scenario could be understood the opposite way. Basically, they claim that wealth drives marriage. Stanton rejects that semantic gamesmanship.
“That’s the criticism some scholars have had, the liberal scholars,” Stanton reportedly said. “But marriage itself is a wealth creating institution. That’s what the research is finding.”
Traditional marriage helps develop family wealth because it prompts men to provide for their family’s prosperity and future. They become more committed workers and place greater emphasis on savings as a family security aspect. Husbands and fathers are less likely to engage in criminal behavior, use drugs or abuse alcohol.
“A married man is a far different kind of man than the single or cohabiting man,” Stanton reportedly said.
Married couples tend to manage their money in more positive and future-oriented ways than cohabitators. Unmarried men living with a woman are also more prone to handle their finances individually and reluctant to manage resources as a team.
“It’s curious that cohabiting women are more likely to have to work but are more likely to live in poverty,” Stanton said.
Marriage also appears to have self-determining element that drives money into the bank accounts of married couples. Married men are more likely to be hired over single men because employers view them as potentially more stable. Simply put, they are not seen as working for themselves or just the next paycheck. Their marriage indicates a larger commitment to show up and work consistently.
“When you’re married, your wife reminds you that you have to stick with your unfulfilling job until you have a new one,” Stanton points out. “Married men settle down. Unmarried men don’t settle down. This is shown time and time again in the (research) literature.”
“Marriage transforms men more than it transforms women,” Stanton reportedly said. “Women insisting that men become good husbands and fathers make the change.”
~ Christian Patriot Daily