Fifty years ago, “93 percent of children born in the United States were born to married parents. By 2010 that number had plummeted to 60 percent.”
That’s a quote from Sen. Marco Rubio’s speech given last month at the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, a government initiative instated by Lyndon B. Johnson to boost opportunity and income of the nation’s poor.
What does marriage have to do with fighting poverty? It’s no secret that the two correlate, but the causality has been under the microscope for decades. Economists have discovered that if unmarried couples were suddenly married – the poverty rate would drop significantly. There are few marriages where both parents work full-time that are below the poverty line, while an alarming one-third of single mother homes dip below the poverty threshold.
And these economic impacts don’t even take into account the mental and emotional effects on children growing up in unmarried households. Studies show that children raised by two parents are not only more likely to achieve in school, but less likely to be asthmatic or hungry or to have behavioral problems.
Even with the acknowledgment that married homes tend to be a more financially and even emotionally stable environment to raise children in, some researchers are claiming that marriage is not the cure to poverty, but that poverty is the barrier to a successful marriage. Young people in poverty are disillusioned with scaling the financial ladder. Upward mobility doesn’t really seem possible, and adding marriage and family planning to an already daunting climb doesn’t seem to be a novel idea.
Try as they might, economists, sociologists, politicians and scientists from all fields of study are not going to be able to quantify everything that makes and breaks a marriage or increases the amount of marriages happening each year. There are too many factors, most of which are of a personal and irrational nature, to be able to predict fiscal and emotional pros and cons of tying the knot.
Yes, there is a correlation between decreasing poverty levels and increasing marriages (including LGBT marriages, mind you.) But marriage is, at the end of the day, just one of those institutions that is really no one’s business except for yours, your loved ones’ and whoever or whatever else helps you make that decision. Getting and staying married can have tremendous effects on you and your family’s quality of life and at the end of the day, can make your household a happier place to exist. That’s nice. We like happy existences.
If you and your partner are ready to get married, please call Rabbi Lebow of Atlanta Jewish and Interfaith Weddings. Rabbi Lebow will help start your marriage with the appropriate measure of grace to set the tone for the rest of your lives together.
*Video courtesy of Rendersen25