The Stronger the Family, The Stronger the Economy

Research shows that there is a solid correlation between strong families and strong economies.  A report produced by the American Enterprise Institute posits 4 basic  points showing how family life affects a society’s economic structure.

  • Higher levels of marriage, and especially higher levels of married-parent families, are strongly associated with more economic growth, more economic mobility, less child poverty, and higher median family income at the state level in the United States. When we compare states in the top quintile of married-parent families with those in the bottom quintile, we find that being in the top quintile is associated with a $1,451 higher per capita GDP, 10.5 percent greater upward income mobility for children from lower-income families, a 13.2 percent decline in the child poverty rate, and a $3,654 higher median family income. These estimates are based on models that control for a range of factors—from the educational and racial composition of a state to its tax policies and spending on education, and to unchanging characteristics of states—that might otherwise confound the family-economy link at the state level.
  • The share of parents in a state who are married is one of the top predictors of the economic outcomes studied in this report. In fact, this family factor is generally a stronger predictor of economic mobility, child poverty, and median family income in the American states than are the educational, racial, and age compositions of the states.
  • The state-level link between marriage and economic growth is stronger for younger adults (ages 25–35) than for older adults (36–59). This suggests that marriage plays a particularly important role in fostering a positive labor market orientation among young men.
  • Violent crime is much less common in states with larger shares of families headed by married parents, even after controlling for a range of socio-demographic factors at the state level. For instance, the violent crime rate (violent crimes per 100,000 people) sits at 343 on average for states in the top quintile of married parenthood, whereas those in the bottom quintile average a rate of 563. This is noteworthy because high crime rates lower the quality of life and real living standards and are associated with lower levels of economic growth and mobility.

The promotion of marriage between a man and a woman is not only good for the family unit and for raising children, it is good for the society as a whole.  So one of the best things we can do to improve the economy is to communicate this information to the watching world.

One thing I thought about after reading this report is that something that makes people put off getting married is not having “enough” money to get married.  Whatever that arbitrary amount of “enough” is, this study would seem to support getting married even when it seems like your bank account is lacking will ultimately be better for the economy as a whole.

The reduction in crime is a benefit to individuals who will not experience the trauma of crime, but is also had an economic benefit as people who are not subject to crime do not have to go backwards and rebuild after a criminal incident.  Instead, they stay on a steady upward trajectory.

Marriage and family are foundational to a culture, and we know that from living life.  It is encouraging to have that supported through sociological and economic data that supports our experience.