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Marriage and Poverty


If you care about poverty and income inequality, you should also care about marriage:

In 2010, among people who were 15 years and over and who were in poverty, about 16.4 million lived in poverty areas (see Table 2b). Of these, more than half were people who were never married. Among the various marital groups who were in poverty, people who were separated and those who had never married had the largest proportions living in poverty areas.

Of course, we’re just seeing a strong correlation between not being married and being in poverty. Surely, there is causality in both directions: those very poor or with limited earning skills are also less attractive candidates for marriage.

But decade after decade of data point to the inescapable conclusion that stable families held together by marriage do a lot over the long term to lift people out of poverty and keep people out of poverty. The idea that you can care about the poor, but exclude marriage as an important part of the solution, ignores reality.


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