In this article, professor Bradford Wilcox comments on a study by Howard and Reeves of the Brookings Centre on Children and Families which found that higher income and better parenting helped to account for the much of the positive effect of marriage on children’s success in life. As a result comments such as ‘promote parenting not marriage. Give single parents money and parenting classes’ came up on social media. The idea is that marriage itself doesn’t matter, just having a good income and being a good parent matters.
Wilcox identifies several flaws in this ‘argument’.
1. “Marriage ITSELF generates more money and is conducive to better parenting than any of the alternatives.” Married partners are morel likely to stay together than cohabiting couples which are more unstable and therefore worse for kids.
2. “The government has neither the will nor the ability to erase the income and parenting deficits associated with single parenthood.”
3. “The deficits associated with single parenthood can be found even in countries like Sweden, that have more generous welfare policies than the US”. Children from single parent families were 78% more likely to be held back in school and were twice as likely to have psychological problems such as depression than those from two parent families
‘The idea that the overwhelming body of research showing that children are more likely to succeed in an intact married family has nothing to do with marriage per se is just not tenable… you cannot easily strip marriage of its constituent parts, such as more money and a supportive parenting environment and imagine that those parts will be as easily produced outside of the very institution that is ordered to their generation and cultivation.. No other institution reliably connects two parents, and their money, talent, and time to their children in the way that marriage does.’
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