Senate Report Examines How Welfare Programs Contribute to ‘Demise of the Happy Two-Parent Home’
Republicans on the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee recently released a report on “The Demise of the Happy Two-Parent Home,” which points to federal welfare programs as a possible contributing factor to the decline in marriage.
“The problem isn’t just that federal welfare spending enables women to choose govt programs over a husband, it is that the eligibility requirements force women to choose. In many cases if a woman gets married, they lose these benefits!!!” Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who is chairman of the committee, commented on Twitter last week.
The report “examines the state of family stability in the United States and describes policy approaches to ensure that more children are raised by two happily married parents.”
“Researchers have well established that children raised by married parents do better on a wide array of outcomes,” the report reads. “They have stronger relationships with their parents, particularly with their fathers. They are also much less likely to experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. They have better health, exhibit less aggression, are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior, have greater educational attainment, and earn more as adults. They are also far less likely to live in poverty.”
The report compares the state of family stability in the 1960s, at the dawn of the sexual revolution, to family stability in 2019. In 1962, 71% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 were married. That figure dropped to 42% in 2019.
The declining marriage rate has not led to a corresponding decline in childbirths. Instead, the percentage of children born to unmarried mothers has increased dramatically.
In 1960, only 5% of American children were born to unmarried mothers. In 2019, the share of American children born to unwed mothers stood at 40%. An explosion in the number of unmarried mothers was accompanied by a sharp increase in cohabitation, where unmarried couples live together as partners.
Before 1970, less than 1% of couples living together were unmarried. In 2019, cohabiting couples comprise one out of every eight couples that live together. Studies have shown that cohabitation is no substitute for a committed marriage.
“While unmarried mothers are often cohabiting with the father of their child at the time of the child’s birth, cohabiting relationships are far less stable than marriages,” the report explains. “In a 2007 study researchers found that 50 percent of children born to cohabiting parents experienced a maternal partnership transition by their third birthday, compared to just 13 percent of children in married-parent households.”