By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

Governor Romney was correct when he made the statement in the second Presidential Debate that “ . . . if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will be able to achieve increase dramatically.”

From our own 30+ years of research on successful marriage around the world we know this – among the principle advantages of marriage, is shared financial stability – now and in the future. It is backed up by the recently released special report by the Heritage Foundation entitled, Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty.

Being married has tons of advantages – love, companionship, children, shared responsibility, financial stability, and the like. But in the end, financial stability in the modern era may, in fact, drive almost everything else.

Here are the facts. The number one economic advantage of marriage is income! According to recent data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau and by the Heritage Foundation, the 2009 poverty rate for single parents with children in the USA was “37.1 percent.” The poverty “rate for married couples with children was “6.8 percent.” The Heritage Report goes on to say that being “raised in a married family reduces a child’s probability of living in poverty by nearly 82%.” Need we say more about being married and its positive impact on our children?

The sad reality is this – in 1964, more than 9 out of 10 children born in the USA were born to married parents. In 2010 that number had dropped to 6 in 10 – a one-third drop. If you wanted to know the single greatest cause of childhood poverty, look no further—40% of single mothers are poor and nearly two-thirds of single mothers receive Food Stamps.

Here’s the bottom line: the huge increases in child poverty are twofold – out of wedlock childbearing and increases in single parenthood. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, some 71% of poor families with children are not married. So we ask this simple question – why would we continue to have children out of wedlock? What favors are we doing for our children? Why do we want to have children born in poverty? Why would we not want our children to be born out of poverty and with a reasonable chance of success?

According to recent statistics, more than HALF of single mother families have an annual income of less than $25,000 per year. The median income for single mother families is also about $25,000. But imagine this – the median family income for married couple families is nearly $78,000 – more than THREE TIMES the income of single mother families!

In the final analysis, married couples in the USA are no longer a majority according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In our estimation, that is a sad situation. This drop in marriage explains more than any other phenomenon, the substantial increases in child poverty and in the significant income disparity of married versus unmarried individuals.

Governor Romney put the issue in perspective when he said, “We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea. Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system.”

Data from the U.S Census Bureau and credible research studies about marriage and poverty back up what Governor Romney said during the second Presidential Debate. There is no way to spin the relationship between childhood poverty and single parenthood. The preponderance of evidence is far too compelling to conclude anything to the contrary.

As marriage experts we do not advocate marriage for the sake of eliminating poverty, or to address income disparity. However, we DO advocate marriage for the stability it provides our children, for the income stability it provides our families, and for the many positive opportunities marriage provides, in general, for all of us.

In love and marriage the simple things matter.

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

For marriage advice and hundreds of practical tips, get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts : The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book

Author's Bio: 

As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With over 30 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 46-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.

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