Over a third of single-parent families with children are poor, compared to only seven percent of married families. Overall, children in married families are 82 percent less likely to be poor than are children of single parents. The strong impact of marriage in reducing poverty still appears when married and non-married families of the same race and education level are compared.
Around three quarters of means-tested welfare assistance to families with children goes to single parents. In 2011, government spent roughly $330 billion providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low income single parents. On average, the annual cost of benefits came to around $30,000 per family.
Most poor children live in single-parent families. Seventy-one percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents, mostly single mothers. Compared to children raised in an intact family, children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; and drop out of high school.
Rising non-marital births leads to increased poverty. In 2010, 41 percent of children were born outside marriage, up from roughly 5 percent in 1960. Children born to unmarried women are very likely to live in persistent poverty.
Low income non-married parents value marriage. However, they have often lack understanding of the importance of having a strong, married family structure before bringing children into the world, and they lack the skills for healthy marriage. The sequence for most low-income mothers is child first, marriage later, which generally leads to negative social and economic outcomes.
Solutions: Marriage and Child Poverty. First, government and culture must clearly communicate the critical importance of marriage to reducing future poverty and other social ills. Second, youth at risk of becoming unwed parents deserve knowledge and skills to prepare them for the task of bearing and raising children. Third, welfare should be changed to encourage rather than penalize marriage, as the current system does.
28 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
2 When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures.
4 Those who reject the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law battle against them.
5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand everything.
7 A discerning son keeps the law, but a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.
8 Whoever increases his wealth through excessive interest collects it for one who is kind to the poor.
9 Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law— even his prayer is detestable.
10 The one who leads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit what is good.
11 A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great rejoicing,[c] but when the wicked come to power, people hide themselves.
13 The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.
14 Happy is the one who is always reverent, but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble.
15 A wicked ruler over a helpless people is like a roaring lion or a charging bear.
16 A leader who lacks understanding is very oppressive, but one who hates dishonest profit prolongs his life.
17 A man burdened by bloodguilt[d] will be a fugitive until death. Let no one help him.
18 The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong[e] will suddenly fall.
19 The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.
20 A faithful man will have many blessings, but one in a hurry to get rich will not go unpunished.
21 It is not good to show partiality— yet a man may sin for a piece of bread.
22 A greedy man[f] is in a hurry for wealth; he doesn’t know that poverty will come to him.
23 One who rebukes a person will later find more favor than one who flatters[g] with his tongue.
24 The one who robs his father or mother and says, “That’s no sin,” is a companion to a man who destroys.
25 A greedy person provokes conflict, but whoever trusts in the Lord will prosper.
26 The one who trusts in himself[h] is a fool, but one who walks in wisdom will be safe.
27 The one who gives to the poor will not be in need, but one who turns his eyes away[i] will receive many curses.
28 When the wicked come to power, people hide, but when they are destroyed, the righteous flourish.