The National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University has just issued a research report on the rates of “first marriage” across different racial/ethnic groups. Interestingly, the ranking of those rates closely parallels the cross-racial/ethnic ranking of the Index of Family Belonging (the fraction of 15- to 17-year-olds who have grown up in an intact married family, which has not changed measurably in the last 3 years) published by The Marriage and Religion Research Institute.
June 17, 2014
Not until the withdrawal from marriage of the last fifty years has the West been able to see so clearly its powerful contribution to all aspects of society including the economy.
Gary Becker’s work brought the family back into economics (where it had been the foundational unit of economics in the beginning, as laid out by the common sense of Aristotle). Becker’s vein of research has gained more traction and has influenced the work of many other Nobel Laureates, including Robert Lucas (1995): macro growth theory of expectations; James Heckman (2000): econometric theory of samples; and George Akerlof (2001): Keynesian market economics.
Marriage makes men different. And if it does not, their marriages either end or are unhappy.
Among the economic differences that marriage makes in men, two stand out: they work harder (married men are more productive, and an area’s minor dependency ratio is strongly associated with employment among adult men aged 25 to 54), and thus earn more (their incomes increase 26 percent).
Conversely, divorce has a major negative impact, reducing the income of the child-raising household by 30 percent or more while driving down the growth rate of the economy by one sixth every year for the last 20 years. This latter happens because divorced men, on average, decrease their productivity enormously.
In education, the precondition for a good wage in the modern economy, marriage is a key ingredient to the productivity of children in their learning. The early home environment lays down a foundation that has an extremely powerful effect later in life. Children born into a married family have a tremendous educational advantage, which is evidenced by graduation rates right through to the college level.
Married families are much more economically efficient households, a characteristic that is not measured in GDP accounting. What is invisible here is the real resource efficiency of a major section of the economy (the home economy). Many married home economies do much better internally because of this totally neglected aspect of productivity.
As the poor and the working class (even into the middle class quintile 3) withdraw from marriage, the productivity of the U.S. declines and the burden on the welfare system increases. Furthermore, the success of the social and welfare policies developed over the last decades greatly depend on the health of marriage. Failing to recognize this dependence, U.S. welfare policies continue to fail to lift people out of poverty (even as the economy grows and world markets massively expand).
Marriage is increasingly the dividing line between those who can learn, who can work in an information economy, who save, who own their own homes, who live happier lives, and who live healthier and longer.
Until now, marriage has been the hidden ingredient of a vibrant economy.
May 15, 2014
Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director, Marriage and Religion Research Institute
Here is a question for the two authors of the Scientific American’s recent article on the not-so-bad effects of divorce.
Why is it that in all measures of outcomes at the national level children of divorce as a group do significantly worse than children of intact married families? If divorce has so little effect why do these big effects constantly appear, in virtually every measure measured? Even remarriage does not wipe out most of them, and even intensifies some of them … at the group level.
On every outcome measured children of divorce as a group do worse, significantly worse. That is a generalization but one that holds. For a fairly recent overview and synthesis of the findings see The Effects of Divorce on Children.
Not all children suffer all the possible bad effects and different children suffer to different degrees, even within the same family. This provides some consolation to parents who divorce, but little to those who did not want divorce yet had to endure it.
As a former therapist who helped some awful marriages turn around I know how helpless the spouse is who wants to make the marriage work while the other spouse just wants out. When both, even in awful and abusive marriages, want to make it work, such marriages can be made whole again. But when one spouse in a relatively decent marriage wants out there is nothing that can be done. Spouse and therapist are helpless (though there are things a good therapist can try with the willing spouse to get the other to change her mind — more women want out than do men— but such is a long shot and both know it).
None of the literature reviewed talked about the sexual difficulties of children of divorce: out of wedlock births (but many protest that is OK too), early sexual involvement (but other protest that is OK too), cohabitation before marriage (but many protest that is OK too), and their own much higher rates of divorce after they marry (but that brings us back full circle).
The article seems more like a justification and rationalization of the radical individualism involved in the breakup of a marriage. More than half of American parents split whether in divorce, after cohabitation or by not coming together at all. By age 17 fifty four percent of American children have parents who have rejected each other. This intimate family experience of the deepest of rejections has lasting effects, some overt and easily measured by sociologists, others much more subtle but happiness-robbing and visible only in therapy or experienced only by spouses of children of divorce.
Western Civilization was built on stable marriage, a phenomenon Christianity gave the West and with it all the treasures and strengths of stable family life. Not all Christians lived Christ’s way but many did and they shaped law, society, expectations in myriad ways to give societies that stability with all its benefits. But modern man, including most modern Americans, even American Christians, find Christianity too hard and are leaving it or the harder parts behind. They are free to choose but they are not free to choose the consequences: more instability in family, more chaos in society, and less developed human beings overall.
Christians have to learn to live with these burdens that others place on society as a whole and thus on them as well. Early Christians lived in societies rife with these burdens.
We are going into a new phase in history that will not be as happy, nor as easy as it was half a century ago. Welcome to suffering, and to the self-justification of those who don’t want to make their marriages work when they get “bad”. The only way to turn this around is for Christians to live marriage and family life as they are called to live it. Eventually others will say again “See how they love one another”. Then they will want back in. Freedom works both ways: leaving and coming back.
September 16, 2013
By MARRI Intern
September 11, 2013
September 26, 2012
February 29, 2012
February 15, 2012
February 9, 2012
Good marriages are the bedrock of strong societies. All other relationships in society stem from the father-mother relationship, and these other relationships thrive most if that father-mother relationship is an intimate, closed husband-wife relationship. Our nation depends on good marriages to yield strong revenues, good health, low crime, high education, and high human capital
4. Those from an intact family are more likely to be happily married.
6. Those from intact families are less likely to divorce.
27. Married men and women report the most sexual pleasure and fulfillment.
33. Adults who grew up in an intact married family are more likely than adults from non-intact family structures to attend religious services at least monthly.
37. Children of married parents are more engaged in school than children from all other family structures.
48. Adolescents from intact married families are less like to be suspended, expelled, or delinquent, or to experience school problems than children from other family structures.
69. The married family is less likely to be poor than any other family structure.
79. Married men are less likely to commit crimes.
93. Married women are less likely to be abused by their husband than cohabiting women are to be abused by their partner.
99. Children in intact married families suffer less child abuse than children from any other family structure.
104. Married people are more likely to report better health, a difference that holds for the poor and for minorities.
119. Married men and women have higher survival rates after being diagnosed with cancer.
126. Married people have lower mortality rates, including lower risk of death from accidents, disease, and self-inflicted injuries.
132. Married women have significantly fewer abortions than unmarried women.
149. Married people are least likely to commit suicide.