The Poverty Solution: Marriage or Bust
Robert Rector /
Last week, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the U.S. just saw the largest annual increase in poverty recorded in our nation’s history: In 2009, 3.7 million more Americans joined the ranks of the poor.
The recession bears part of the blame, but media outlets have failed to inform the public about the long-term root cause of poverty in this country: unwed childbearing. Buried in the Census report are startling figures revealing that the collapse of marriage is creating this crisis of poverty. Single-mother families are almost five times more likely to be poor than are married couples with children; overall, nearly 70 percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents.
The biggest secret in the Census report: Marriage is America’s number-one weapon against child poverty. Tragically, however, marriage has been rapidly declining in our society and the number of women who have children outside of marriage has soared. Historically, unwed childbearing was rare. In 1964, when the federal government launched its War on Poverty, 6.8 percent of births were to single mothers. Today, the unwed birthrate has climbed to 40 percent: four of every ten births are to single mothers. For Hispanics and African Americans, the rates rise to nearly 50 and over 70 percent. (more…)