Posts Tagged ‘Black children and poverty’

The “Marriage = Anti-Poverty” Campaign, It Goes Deeper than That

I don’t know about you but everywhere I turn there are these headlines, editorials, campaigns, etc. about beating poverty by encouraging marriage.  Again, I have nothing against marriage I think it’s one the most treasured and sacred bonds we as humans can establish.  This is the problem, people hear and/or see this and think, “hmmm! let’s get married so we’re not maintaining two separate residences”, with the mindset that they  can free up much more of their disposable income for other things.  This is not ideal, for several reasons:  1) marriages based solely on this premise ( the economics) usually end in divorce and can be some of the most contentious divorces and 2) freeing up disposable income does not mean that the parties will save more, invest more or budget wisely, which in turns does not change the economic state for the family.  On the other hand, parents who think about the future and well-being of their children, whether married or not, will typically take measures to ensure that they do that regardless.

The studies conducted by the Pew Research, the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, and several others, all emphasize some facts that many of us know- children are less likely to live in poverty when they are living in a household with both parents.  Single parent households make up more than 35% of families with children living in poverty, while married parents comprise under 10%. (According to data in Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty, published in the Backgrounder, by the Heritage Foundation.)  The Institute of American Values, too, has released several articles where they report studies that indicate that children fare much better, economically, physiologically and intellectually when both parents are in the home.  However, any marriage, like those established for the sake of economics, does not suffice.  Absolutely not, being in the home where  the parents have a contentious marriage or high conflict marriage can have much more destructive effects overall.  Championing marriage should not be done in a vacuum, the focus should be on promoting strong, healthy marriages!  Divorce, too, can do just as much damage, having as much of a negative financial impact as living in a single parent home.  Black children are more likely than White children to go into poverty when their parents divorce, almost twice as much according to some sources. (http://social.jrank.org/pages/20/African-American-Children-Family-Structure.html)

Not to mention, the divorce rate in this country has soared since the 1960’s, particularly for Black couples with some believing it is as high as 50%.  The contributing factors that caused the huge increase in divorce range from the change in societal acceptance to the lax laws that most states have adopted.  However, the one factor that many, especially the “marriage as prevention to child poverty” protagonists, fail to mention is that one of the major causes of divorce  is the finance/economics circumstances of the family. (Read the “Married and Poor: Basic Characteristics of Economically Disadvantaged Couples in the US” by David Fein. http://www.mdrc.org/publications/393/workpaper.html) In other words, the economic positions the parties are in when they marry, causes them to experience more stress, which leads to divorce which results in children living in poverty.  A study conducted to assess the impact of one’s profession on divorce supports this, the result:  the most stressful jobs/occupations tend to have the highest divorce rates.  (Read the article here).  on the professions that many are in when they marry in the first place.

Furthermore, the answer to poverty is not necessarily more money or more resources, we should have all learned that by the recent debacle that landed us in this current economic state we are in.  The answer to ending poverty, especially within the household, is financial literacy, education and employability.  Improving the economic state before we marry seems to a surefire way to prevent divorce.  Budgeting, investing, saving, job training, education-all of these things are what keeps the family on the path to prosperity.  If we want our children to have an advantage, in every sense, it is not enough for us to to say “I do” we have to work collectively to avail ourselves of the knowledge and information on how to build and sustain wealth.

The Spotlight on Poverty has several articles on the topic, visit their website at http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org.