Strong Families, Prosperous States: Do Healthy Families Affect the Wealth of States?

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. The share of parents in a state who are married is one of the top predictors of the economic outcomes and 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. 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. To strengthen the economic and cultural foundations of marriage and family life in states across the country, we should end the marriage penalty in means-tested welfare programs, strengthen vocational education and apprenticeships, reduce unnecessary divorce, and launch civic efforts to strengthen marriage.

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