First Comes Love, Then Comes… Motherhood?

May 21, 2009 Comments Off on First Comes Love, Then Comes… Motherhood?
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Tony Perkins, Washington Update Family Research Council <frcpub@frc.org>

According to research released yesterday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), America is rapidly becoming a nation of unwed parents. While the social shift has been underway for years, few could have predicted just how quickly it would sweep the country’s households. In 2002, 1.4 million babies were born to unmarried women–doubling the number from 1980. Five years later, the data spiked to 1.7 million babies born to unwed moms in their 20s and 30s. To put things in perspective, four of every 10 babies are now born to single mothers.

In the blink of an eye, the United States has gone from a relatively gradual uptick in unwed births to being completely Europeanized. Experts cite plenty of reasons for the surge, but the de-emphasis of marriage and family is by far the largest. As more men retreat from responsibility, women are delaying marriage or foregoing it altogether. That’s bad news for children and for anyone hoping for a return to limited government. As the foundation of our homes splinter, Washington will look for new ways to fill in the cracks. Most liberals, like those presently in control of government, believe that Washington can do a better job supporting families and raising children. Instead of policies that strengthen families, the White House will look for ways to bolster the government’s role in them.

Of course, a lot of fiscal conservatives ignore marriage as a policy issue because they think of it as a cultural or religious institution. What they fail to realize is that it’s also an economic institution that has enormous implications for the role of the federal government. Every year, state and federal governments fork over $280 billion in welfare, food stamps, and other anti-poverty programs just to keep these broken families afloat. That means that in one decade, the decline of marriage has taken $3 trillion dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets.

As our own Dr. Pat Fagan writes, “This system is a massive injustice. Married people are the source of a massive transfer of payments to broken families. Those who stay together are also paying for those adults who do not.” If the federal government could reduce family breakdown by a single percent, taxpayers would save around $3 billion dollars a year. And those are just the fiscal benefits. Having a happy, two-parent home to grow up? That’s priceless.

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