poverty

poverty

MARRI’s User-Friendly Demographic Tool

Census data, education, family structure, income, MARRI, poverty, sexuality, single parents, social science, welfare No comments

Over the next few weeks we will introduce you to different tools and resources in the MARRI website.  Today we introduce you to a tool that permits you to pick out the charts you want to see at the national or state level (your own state for instance) on a number of outcomes such as poverty and welfare.

These graphs chart the changes in the American family from 1940, just before entry into World War II,  to 2013.  This is a charting of the change in American culture over time, from one of significant belonging within the family to a culture of significant levels of rejection within the family.

You can analyze these trends by
•    The nation or by any particular state;
•    By total population or broken down by ethnic group;
•    By male or female or both combined;
•    By adult or children or both combined;
•    By outcome: family structure; education (but this not for children), poverty and welfare.

There are a total of 500 charts in the tool. All the data is from the Office of the Census, drawing on decennial census data and annual survey data.

To pull up the charts that are of interest, you click on the appropriate tabs on the dashboard.  When you click on a button it will turn either blue or gold.  Gold indicates the variable you are picking.  Blue indicates a tab is turned off.  Gold is on; blue is off. Thus if I wanted education outcomes for all adult males (only) in the state of Utah, the tabs for Utah, adults, males and education would be in gold, everything else would be in blue.

By playing around with the dashboard and you will quickly see how it works.  It may take a second or two to function as the tool is “in the cloud” not in your computer.

Occasionally you will find blanks where we do not have data for a cluster of variables, e.g. on education attained for children.

Enjoy the tool, and spread the word, particularly to students!

Poverty in America

Census Report, Hillary Clinton, poverty No comments

America suffers from a poverty crisis—but not the sort that can be alleviated by food stamps or free healthcare. America’s poverty lies within the family—a poverty of belonging in marriage between fathers and mothers.  The biggest cause of poverty is rejection (splitting apart) between parents.

According to the latest census report, 8.6 million families were in poverty in 2015. Poverty is principally the problem of non-intact family structures.  Five times as many female-headed families (no husband present) and almost three times as many male-headed families (no wife present) as married-couple families were in poverty in 2015. Although welfare may artificially reduce poverty statistics on paper, in reality it compounds at least two significant obstacles to the poor: first, welfare replaces personal agency with government reliance, thereby robbing individuals of their feeling of self-worth; second, it artificially covers deeper wounds and allows them to fester.

Research shows that family intactness, along with high school graduation rates, play the largest role in diminishing child poverty. Men raised in intact families work 156 hours longer and earn $6,534 more than their counterparts raised in single-parent families. Married men—especially those with children—earn 26 percent more than their non-married counterparts. They have higher incomes, more net worth, and greater year-to-year net worth growth. Marriage is also an important driver of economic mobility.

In addition to improving financial hardships, intact married families simultaneously treat children’s physical, mental, and spiritual privation. Children raised in married families tend to have higher educational achievement and attainment, have a better relationship with their parents, are less likely to commit crime, and are less likely to have a teenage pregnancy. Children who grow up in non-intact families are more likely to suffer from poorer physical and mental health, abuse drugs and alcohol, and partake in sexually promiscuous behavior.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Hillary Clinton accurately stated that “The true measure of any society is how we take care of our children.” However, our children’s wellbeing cannot be measured solely by the dollar sign tied to their family in a census report. As Mother Teresa famously said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” MARRI data shows that 54 percent of youth experience the rejection of a non-intact family by the time they reach age 18. Even more disconcerting, only 17 percent of black youth grow up with their married mother and father. Whereas family intactness fosters an environment of belonging among youth that increases their likelihood of excelling in education, health, and economic security, family brokenness creates a sense of rejection that can impede proper growth.

A nation is only as strong as the relationship between its citizens, and a lack of strong families weakens human, social, and moral capital, which in turn directly affects the finances of the United States. A holistic and effective long-term plan to reduce material and relational poverty in America must encourage intact married families.

A Change of Culture for the U.S. Congress’s Backyard

abortion, D.C., poverty, Washington 1 comment

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director, MARRI


Southeast Washington is in Congress’s backyard, so it should be easy for Congressmen to get to know how their poverty programs are working. From the map above, the work of Henry Potrykus of MARRI, one can see the drastic difference between the Northwest (high income) section of Washington, D.C., and the poorest Southeast: rates virtually ten times different. (The rates are shown as fractions/decimals of 1; multiplying by 100 will yield percentage points.)

The rates of poverty tell a similar story … almost ten times the difference as well:


But teenage-out-of-wedlock births do not tell the same story. The highest rates lie elsewhere in the city. When I asked local juvenile crime and violence expert, Ron Moten, who knows the area well, his response was immediate: “Planned Parenthood is much more active there. Abortions are much more common there.” That is not data, but a hypothesis from a well-informed community activist. Is it true? What are the rates of abortion in these different PUMAs? Those data are not available in the American Community Survey (from which these choropleths are derived).


So what has the Welfare State given the poor in SE Washington? Poverty, virtually no marriage, and high abortion rates. This is not exactly a culture that will raise strong men and women capable of hard work, commitment to each other and to the children they beget together. 

Congress has no strategy to bring Southeast Washington alive. Neither does the Government of D.C. Putting such a question to welfare state experts is akin to asking a question for a different planet. But New York City had a similar problem among the Irish in the 1820’s and turned it around.  Dagger John, Archbishop John Hughes of New York devised and executed a very successful strategy.

Does South East DC have any champions for such cultural change? A great clergyman? A great mayor?

Marriage: A Solution to Child Poverty

crime, divorce, marriage, poverty 1 comment
Maria Reig Teetor, Intern
As a psychology major, I am fascinated by studies that relate family structure to different mental health problems. One study on child poverty demonstrates that children who grow up in poor families are more likely to develop depression and personality disorders. Poor children are exposed to a wide range of risk factors that affect their social and emotional development. The environment they grow up in is surrounded by drug abuse, inadequate nutrition, crime, parental instability, divorce, maternal depression….I could go on and on.
In 2010 43% of children lived in “low-income” families, which translates to 43% of children living in poverty conditions. These factors are known to decrease cognitive stimulation, which consequently affects their education; they have higher probability to skip school and fail classes and eventually drop out of high school. 
This environment also causes the children to externalize their emotional turmoil with behavior outbursts such as delinquency or drug and sexual abuse. Because this is the environment in which these children grow up, learning such behaviors from mothers, fathers and peers, it becomes their normal lifestyle. In short, poverty affects children and has grave consequences. But should we blame the economic meltdown or the government for this social crisis? Or can we do something about it? Can we help these children finish high school and prevent them from ending up in prison or as cocaine addicts? Can we prevent girls from being abused and emotionally unstable? Can we show them that their life-style is not the only one?
It’s a lot to ask, but I know we must try.
Research demonstrates that children who grow up in the stable environment provided by natural marriage are more likely to develop emotional stability and grow up sure of themselves and of their own identity. This is a strong indicator of success in their education, as they feel safe, loved and respected in their own home. 
But how does this apply to our poverty problem? Well, marriage is the strongest anti-poverty weapon. Why? As fathers or mothers disappear, poverty increases and both child and parent suffer. A study done by the Heritage Foundation  shows 31.7% of children who are in poverty conditions come from single-parent, female-headed families, while only 6.8% come from married, two-parent families.
I deeply admire the mothers and fathers who decide to raise their children on their own. It takes courage and generosity. But we should work toward helping families stay together. We should provide information that will help people form and maintain healthy relationships, teaching adolescents to delay childbearing until there is a strong commitment, because of its benefits for their own future and for their children’s future.
This way we can address two problems at once: poverty and emotional instability. Both are less common in children who grow up in homes where the parents are married and work to grow in unity through their marriage.

Put Your Money Where Your Marriage Is

culture, human capital, marriage, mothers, poverty, religion, teen pregnancy No comments
Lindsay Smith, Intern

“16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Moms,” and countless other reality shows have popularized and perhaps even glamorized the lives of unmarried mothers in our society.   In addition, the trend of popular female celebrities becoming single mothers furthers the attention.  While Hollywood portrays this family structure as desirable and even empowering for women, the true hardships of single motherhood are not always given their just time in the spotlight.  Let me be clear, I applaud single and unwed mothers for choosing life for their babies, a valiant decision in a culture which all but hands them a “get out of motherhood free” card.  No, the solution to the plight of the single mother does not come from abortion, but rather from Marriage. 

The Houston Chronicle recently released an article titled Figures show struggle worsening for single mothers,” which shares the stories and struggles of several single moms straining to make ends meet.  According to the article, “41 percent of households headed by single women with children live in poverty – nearly triple the national poverty rate, according to 2010 census data.”  This percentage alone should seize our attention.  However, combine it with the fact that more than half of single mothers over age twenty rely on public assistance, and these statistics don’t softly whisper for concern.   They deafeningly cry for action – or should I say results.  Many in government have championed action through the years: job training, GED programs, welfare.  These actions seem to only create a treadmill – lots of movement but no upward mobility – and find many of their recipients in the same place year after year.  At the article’s conclusion, Robert Rector from the Heritage Foundation summarizes it best: “The welfare state has been about picking up the pieces from non-marital births, and it’s not working. The reality is that you can’t create a substitute father.”
MARRI’s studies confirm Mr. Rector’s assertion.  An intact married family has the highest average income and net worth and experiences less poverty than other family types, all of which carries over to their children’s well-being.  On the reverse side, according to these studies, “A non-intact family background increases by over 50 percent a boy’s odds of ending up in the lowest socioeconomic level.”  Family structure has not only immediate effects but also intergenerational effects on a child’s economic status.  Females who grow up in an intact married family are far less likely to have a non-marital pregnancy than those who were raised in an always single-parent family.  In case anyone is tempted to think this only applies to single mothers, studies also show married men have a higher rate of employment than single men.   Let’s not forget that God’s design was to give Adam both a job and a helper, who was Eve.  Speaking of God’s design, learning about His plan for marriage and family appears to significantly affect this female demographic.  The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Survey reports that “urban mothers who attend church frequently are at least 70 percent more likely to be married when they give birth or to get married within one year of a nonmarital birth than are urban mothers who do not attend church frequently.”
As one of the moms in the Chronicle article poignantly expresses, “Sometimes I think I’m in a big hole and I can’t see the light, but then I know God is big and there’s something big for me.”  And she is right.  Perhaps we should all stop asking people what their temporary aid for single mothers would be, and remind ourselves of God’s unchanging, perfect (and big) plan for the family.

“17 Filles”

education, fathers, marriage, poverty, teen pregnancy No comments
MARRI Interns
Raising children is something that is considered to be serious but very rewarding; it is not to be taken lightly. However, a recent movie, 17 Filles (“17 Girls”), by French directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin, demeans and trivializes what it takes and what it means to raise children. The arthouse film is based on the events at Gloucesterhigh school when 17 girls made a pact to all get pregnant and raise their children together. While there was overall displeasure with the events at Gloucester high school, 17 Filles in many ways encourages and glorifies these ambitious young women. The movie depicts the main character Camille as having killer looks and a Mean Girls-ish personality. She convinces the other envious girls that “having a bun in the oven is way cooler than having lots of friends on Facebook.”
Not only does this movie trivialize the responsibilities of raising children, but it also fails to convey the importance of raising children in an intact home. According to R. Rector: Analysis of CPS, in 2001 there were 3.93 million children living in poverty (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents“). If those same parents were married, 3.17 million of those same children would leave poverty.
In addition, children living with a never married mother are 4.3 times more likely to get expelled or suspended from school than those living in an intact home. Finally, according to the Adolescent Health Survey, children raised in an intact home achieve significantly higher GPA’s than those living with a never-married mother, 2.9 v 2.5.
 
While single mothers should not be condemned or looked down upon, it is wrong to encourage and praise deliberately raising children without a father and completely dismiss the consequences.

Meaning of Marriage

children, MARRI, marriage, poverty 3 comments
MARRI Interns
Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart has sparked a remarkable conversation about growing inequality in American culture. The upper and lower classes – or “Belmont” and “Fishtown” – “diverge in core beliefs and values,” which, in turn, begets a divergence in the role of marriage in society, as previously discussed on this blog. An article entitled “For Richer (Not for Poorer): The Inequality Crisis of Marriage” appeared in The Atlantic this week, continuing the discussion of growing class divergence in marriage rates. Author Nancy Cook argues that the economic consequences of increasing intermarriage among Belmont-dwellers and declining marriage rates in Fishtown could continue to sow the seeds of inequality. “Then consider the impact on the next generation,” she urges. “Well-educated, wealthy Americans will have more resources to spend on their children’s education, health, and enrichment; low-income people can offer fewer opportunities to help their offspring get ahead.”
 
Because, in Cook’s words, Americans are no longer “starry-eyed about marriage as an aspiration,” increasingly the definition of the institution becomes more obscured. What is marriage for, anyway? David and Amber Lapp went into Fishtown to ask this very question for Public Discourse. The majority of responses cited a subjective feeling of happiness or a “spark” with little consideration for permanence, service, or even children. Curiously, marriage was still considered to be a solemn, almost sacred, institution that should not be entered into lightly. “It is not out of disdain for marriage that working-class young adults delay marriage and begin families,” the Lapps write, “but out of reverence for it as something that ought not be broken.”

Marriage then becomes an empty set: it should not be entered into lightly, but what is it a couple is entering in the first place? While research from the Marriage and Religion Research Institute has demonstrated that marriage does have a positive effect on happiness, it appears this cannot realistically be the ultimate purpose of the institution if it is to last. Nevertheless, a number of the responses the Lapps received can be found in marriage, as MARRI’s 162 Reasons to Marry suggests. A reexamination of the meaning of marriage could help Fishtown out of its economic and social doldrums.

Does Family Structure Make a Difference?

crime, divorce, education, family, poverty 1 comment

MARRI Interns

What is Marriage? Many arguments are proffered as to why traditional marriage (between a man and a woman) needs to be defended. In the end, all arguments come down to the question, what is marriage and does marriage matter? Do intact marriages have any different positive benefits for those involved, whether it is the individuals in the relationship or the children? The Marriage and Religion Research Institute seeks to answer these questions by using the social sciences to show that there is clearly a difference between intact marriages and non-intact marriages.

There is overwhelming evidence supporting the numerous benefits that an intact married family provides. In terms of educational achievement, children who grow up in an intact family on average receive a 2.9 GPA as opposed to a 2.6 GPA for children living with a step-parent (See “Effects of Divorce”). Family background also has a significant impact on whether or not a child is ever expelled or suspended. According to the Adolescent Health Survey, 20.3% of children who grow up in an intact family have ever been expelled or suspended, compared to over 50% of children who grown up with parents who are never married (See “Watchmen on the Wall”).

Family background also plays a significant role in whether or not a child commits a crime. 
According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 5% of children who live in an intact family have ever been arrested, compared to 13% of children who live in a cohabiting family.

Finally, marriage status influences family income. According to the Survey of Consumer Finance, intact families with children under 18 were on average worth $120,250, compared to divorced individuals with children under 18 who were only worth $27,800 (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents”). Furthermore, 67% of children living with never married parents live in poverty compared to only 12% of children in intact families (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents”).

The statistics here are only a small portion of the social science that MARRI has researched on the importance of a healthy family. In this culture of individualism that has been built in our nation, it is often forgotten that the family is what all societies are built upon and healthy families are what enable societies to last.

The Benefits of Two-Parent Families

divorce, family, Jessica Olien, MARRI, marriage, poverty, single parents, United Kingdom No comments
By MARRI Interns
In a recent Slate.com article, “I Want To Be My Kid’s Only Parent,” Jessica Olien presents the case that single motherhood allows her to raise her child without interference from a spouse. “I crave the closeness of single motherhood—without the complications a husband can bring,” she says. While there is no problem craving closeness with one’s child, the desire to be a single parent means missing out on the vast benefits for children raised in married, two-parent homes. The Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s publication Mapping America has documented research from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997) on the ways that family structure affects children. Research has shown that children raised with two biological parent homes are more emotionally stable, and are also significantly less likely to run away, experience poverty, and other emotional stresses. Children raised in two parent biological parent homes are more likely and more able to enjoy the benefits of the physical presence of two loving parents.
 
Studies done in the United Kingdom have shown that children raised in lone parent homes, whether divorced or separated, are more likely than children raised in married families to experience emotional disorders, 7.6% of children as opposed to 3.5% (from MARRI’s research synthesis paper “Effects of Divorce”).
 
Single-parenthood also brings with it economic consequences for the child. Children who live in single-parent homes often live in poverty.  A 2000 study of children in poverty done in found that 67% of children in never-married-parent homes lived in poverty, 41% of those living with a separated parent, and 31% of those living with a divorced parent also live in poverty as opposed to only 12% of children who live in first marriage parents (MARRI website). According to a MARRI presentation, “Children’s right to the marriage of parents,” there are over 3.93 million children living in poverty. If those same parents were married, there would only be 0.75 million children living in poverty, with 3.17 million leaving poverty. Clearly, this is not only a huge strangle on the economy, but it is also leaving children unable to enjoy the benefits of living in a loving a ndcomfortable environment.


American Demography: Meet the Parents

cohabitation, education, family, human capital, MARRI, marriage, poverty 2 comments
By MARRI Interns
Over the weekend, the New York Times published a front page article by Jason Deparle and Sabrina Tavernise reporting on new data by Child Trends (“For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage,” Feb. 18, 2012). But the objective data that the unassuming title portends quickly gives way to a remarkable synthesis of logical flaws, selective data interpretation, and glaring oversights which all culminate in an irredeemably confused analysis of contemporary American demography.

The raw data is not the cause of these accusations. The burgeoning number of children born outside of marriage is beyond dispute and is, as Deparle and Tavernise rightly note, a trend that is observable through the past five decades. Only slightly less controversial is the assertion that this trend has been decisively harmful to the development of the children involved. The article is thus correct in noting, “Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.” The article also includes the admission by Susan Brown, a sociologist from Bowling Green State University, that “children born to married couples, on average, ‘experience better education, social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes.’” It is simply no longer a point of debate that children raised in monogamous, married, intact families perform incomparably better than do children raised in other family structures.

The article is lacking not because of flaws in the data but because Deparle and Tavernise’s interpretation of that data is erroneous and relatively dismissive. It is already established that these trends are pernicious toward children and society as a whole. Why then this facile intimation that such trends are somehow of nominal significance, that the increase of children born to unwed parents does not bode poorly for the future, and that marriage is somehow, in the words of University of Pennsylvania sociologist Frank Furstenberg, “a luxury good,” in the face of volumes of sociological evidence to the contrary?

The confusion inherent in the article is made manifest in the implicit insinuation that such trends are simply to be accepted passively as an irremediable feature of American demography, and that the circumstances which occasioned their advent were regrettably unavoidable. Deparle and Tavernise’s interpretation of the data is a reductionist one that explains the decline in marriage as attributable almost entirely to economics and education. While DeParle and Tavernise rightly assert that “men are worth less than they used to be,” they provide no explanation for that development.  But the research presented in MARRI’s 162 Reasons to Marry shows definitively that men are worth less because they fail to marry, and that marriage correlates with significant increases in working hours, productivity, and wages for men. Furthermore, married, intact families save more, have higher average net worth, enjoy more rapid net worth growth, and are less likely to be impoverished than any other family structures. None of these benefits apply to cohabiting couples, the very structure identified by Deparle and Tavernise as the source of most of the new nonmarital births. The research supporting these conclusions is copious and consistently strengthened by newer studies. By contrast, the analysis provided in the NYTarticle has the causal link exactly backwards, and in ironic fashion, the cohabiting couples or single parents interviewed for the anecdotal segments of the article are also, by their intentional decision not to marry, unintentionally ensuring the propagation to their children of the very circumstances they attribute to be the cause of their familial instability, and thereby putting their children at a disadvantage, not shielding them from the potential devastation of a fractured marriage.

Nor are the beneficial aspects of involvement by both parents in a stable marriage for the children merely financial. MARRI’s 2011 Index of Belonging and Rejection demonstrates that children from intact, stable families have higher high school graduation rates and standardized tests scores and a lower incidence of teenage out-of-wedlock births, among other indicators. The data resound to indicate that mothers—even financially stable mothers—cannot so quickly dispense with the fathers of their children, nor can women be removed from a society without grave repercussions, as previous entries in this blog have noted. An indelible interconnectedness binds private behavior and public well-being together, and this ever-increasing volume of studies demonstrates that the sexes are not as independent and isolated as might be thought. It would seem that fathers and mothers are not mutually expendable baggage to be jettisoned capriciously for the sake of convenience, but are rather integral components of successful families and society as a whole.