Why should legislators and policymakers care about marriage? Public debate on marriage in this country has focused on the “social costs” of family fragmentation (that is, divorce and unwed childbearing), and research suggests that these are indeed extensive.
But marriage is more than a moral or social institution; it is also an economic one, a generator of social and human capital, especially when it comes to children.
In this study, we adopt the simplifying and extremely cautious assumption that all of the taxpayer costs of divorce and unmarried childbearing stem from the effects that family fragmentation has on poverty, a causal mechanism that is well-accepted and has been reasonably well-quantified in the literature.Based on the methodology, we estimate that family fragmentation costs U.S. tax-payers at least $112 billion each and every year, or more than $1 trillion each decade.These costs arise from increased taxpayer expenditures for antipoverty, criminal justice, and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals who, as adults, earn less because of reduced opportunities as a result of having been more likely to grow up in poverty.
Even very small increases in stable marriage rates as a result of government programs or community efforts to strengthen marriage would result in very large savings for taxpayers.
If the federal marriage initiative, for example, succeeds in reducing family fragmentation by just 1 percent, U.S. taxpayers will save an estimated $1.1 billion each and every year.
The crisis of family destruction is upon us. If every church in America adopted a small program to support marriages, we could help break the cycle of poverty and increase giving to our own churches.Want to learn how to decrease family break ups? Contact me at email@example.com