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As husbands disappear from the home, poverty and welfare dependence will increase, and children and parents will suffer as a result.
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.
Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 82 percent. Some of this difference in poverty is due to the fact that single parents tend to have less education than married couples, but even when married couples are compared to single parents with the same level of education, the married poverty rate will still be more than 75 percent lower. In fact, being married has the same effect in reducing poverty that adding five to six years to a parent’s level of education has. Regrettably, marriage is declining rapidly in the U. Since that time, births within marriage have declined sharply.For example, as Chart 10 shows, 2 percent of white children and 14 percent of black children born in 1940 were born out of wedlock.These rates remained relatively low until the onset of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the early 1960s.The out-of-wedlock birth rate for a particular group equals the total number of out-of-wedlock births to mothers of that group divided by all births to the group in the same year.Thus, if 50 babies were born outside of marriage to Hispanic mothers in a given year and total births to all Hispanic mothers (both married and non-married) in the same year were 100, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for Hispanics would be 50 divided by 100, or 50 percent.