THE Republican Party regularly gets knocked around by critics for its focus — some of those on the other side might call it an obsession — on social issues. One of those is the defense of marriage, a topic the GOP should continue to champion at every turn.
The breakdown of traditional families has had a devastating effect on this country. Further proof of that is seen in a new study by the Heritage Foundation, which found that nearly three out of four poor U.S. families with children are single-parent households. When a child's father is married to his mother, the chance of the child living in poverty falls by 82 percent.
The report was written by Robert Rector, a senior research fellow in domestic policy at Heritage. Rector says state and national policymakers “recognize that education reduces poverty, but they're largely unaware that marriage is an equally strong anti-poverty weapon.”
In Oklahoma, nearly 170,000 single parents — most of them women — are raising their children alone. The number increased by almost 19 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Oklahoma's divorce rate is among the highest in the country and has been for many years.
Rector says the collapse of marriage, paired with a significant rise in births to single women, is the most important cause of childhood poverty. But this isn't reflected in government policy. The government is quick to warn about the dangers of smoking, dropping out of school or having unprotected sex, but it doesn't tout the benefits of marriage.
“We spend billions of dollars a year to educate low-income children, quite appropriately, and billions more for means-tested welfare aid for single mothers,” Rector says. “But the nation does little or nothing to discourage births outside marriage or to encourage healthy marriage. In fact, the welfare system often sends the message that marriage has nothing to do with poverty.”
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