This version of the Index is a breakdown, state by state, of the data published in that 2011 Index. Each page compares individual state performance on various child outcomes (high school graduation rate, eighth grade NAEP reading scores, child poverty, and births to unmarried teenagers). This permits the comparison of each state to the weakest and strongest states in each outcome category. Because social policy is executed at the state level, a breakdown of this data state by state is natural and fitting.
We hope that this version of the Index will be informative to both state legislators and citizens.
Each year, over a million American children suffer the divorce of their parents. Divorce causes irreparable harm to all involved, but most especially to the children. Though it might be shown to benefit some individuals in some individual cases, over all it causes a temporary decrease in an individual’s quality of life and puts some “on a downward trajectory from which they might never fully recover.”
The paper discusses divorce’s effects across six categories:
·Family: The parent-child relationship is weakened, and children’s perception of their ability (as well as their actual ability) to develop and commit to strong, healthy romantic relationships is damaged.
·Religious practice: Divorce diminishes the frequency of worship of God and recourse to Him in prayer.
·Education: Children’s learning capacity and educational attainment are both diminished.
·The marketplace: Household income falls and children’s individual earning capacity is cut deeply.
·Government: Divorce significantly increases crime, abuse and neglect, drug use, and the costs of compensating government services.
·Health and well-being: Divorce weakens children’s health and longevity. It also increases behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric risks, including even suicide.
According to a new Pew Research study, released less than a month ago, barely half (51%) of Americans are married, compared to 72% in 1960. However, federal surveys show that the birth rate today is 4,317,000—greater than the birthrate in 1961, at 4,268,000.
What these numbers tell us is that there are more children born to fewer married couples. This means that many children today are missing out on the host of benefits that come from being raised by two married parents. Notably, children raised in married parent families do better in many educational outcomes.
From “Marriage, Family Structure, and Children’s Educational Attainment,” research shows that in terms of raw achievement, elementary school children from intact biological families earn higher reading and math test scoresthan children in cohabiting and divorced single and always-single parent families. However, adolescents from non-intact families have lower scores than their counterparts in intact married families on math, science, history, and reading tests.
When it comes to school behavior, adolescents in single-parent families, married stepfamilies, or cohabiting stepfamilies are more likelythan adolescents in intact married families to have ever been suspended or expelled from school, to have participated in delinquent activities, and to have problems getting along with teachers, doing homework, and paying attention in school.
Parents have a tremendous impact on their child’s education, as well. Adolescents in intact biological families reported that their parents participated more in school, that they discussed school more with their parents, and that they knew more of their friends’ parents than those in single-parent families and stepfamilies. Kids from married parent families also have greater education expectations: 31.3 percent of sons and 26.7 percent of daughters from intact biological families plan to get a college degree, but 42.4 percent of sons and 35.9 percent of daughters in single-parent families do not plan to get a college degree.
See our full report in order to see the benefits of marriage and religion for students’ raw achievement, test scores, school behavior, parental impact, religious practice, and family income.
The best thing for your child’s education just may be your marriage.
Did you miss the release of our Second Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection? You can read it hereand watch the webcast of the event here!
An excerpt from the Index’s introduction:
The Index of Family Belonging was 45.8 percent with a corresponding Family Rejection score of 54.2 percent for the United States for the year 2009. The action of parents determines the belonging or rejection score: whether they marry and belong to each other, or they reject one another through divorce or otherwise. Rejection leaves children without married parents committed to one another and to the intact family in which the child was to be brought up.
·Only 45.8% of American children reach the age of 17 with both their biological parents married (since before or around the time of their birth).
·The Index of Family Belonging is highest in the Northeast (49.6%) and lowest in the South (41.8%).
·Minnesota (57%) and Utah (56.5%) have the highest Index of Family Belonging values of all the states; Mississippi (34%) has the lowest. The District of Columbia had an abysmally low Family Belonging Index score of 18.6%.
·Family Belonging is strongest among Asians (65.8%) and weakest among Blacks (16.7%).
·Once differences across states in Family Belonging, adult educational attainment, foreign-born residents, and population density are taken into account, differences in state racial and ethnic composition are no longer significant in accounting for variations in child well-being outcomes (the exception being that the proportion of Hispanics in a state is very significant in determining the number of births to unmarried teenagers).
·While the effects of government spending on high school graduation rates are curvilinear and offer diminishing returns, family belonging is positively and significantly associated with high school graduation rates.
·Family belonging and child poverty are significantly, inversely related: States with high Index values have relatively low child poverty rates, and vice versa.
·There is a significant, inverse relationship between family belonging and the incidence of births to unmarried teenagers.