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Institute for American Values Institute for Marriage and Public Policy - page 14 / 44





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Assumption 3 implies that the proportion of poverty that can be attributed to fam- ily fragmentation is equal to the proportion of expenditures on a variety of govern- ment programs that are caused by family fragmentation. As shown in table 3, if mar- riage would lift 60 percent of single-mother households out of poverty, then the total number of persons in poverty would decline by 31.7 percent and the total number of children in poverty would decline by 36.1 percent.30 By virtue of assumption 3, marriage would reduce the costs of some government programs by 31.7 percent and the costs of government programs that are exclusively for children by 36.1 percent. Put another way, this assumption suggests that family fragmenta- tion is responsible for 31.7 percent of the costs of government antipoverty programs and is responsible for 36.1 percent of the costs of government programs that are exclusively for children.31

Number Lifted Out of Poverty via Marriage (thousands)

@60% of female-headed households in poverty are lifted out of poverty

Percent Lifted Out of Poverty via Marriage

11,554 4,629

31.7% 36.1%

Table 3.Persons and Children Lifted out of Poverty via Marriage

(Source: 2006 CPS)

Total Persons Children

Total U.S. Poverty 2006 (thousands)

36,460 12,827

This crucial assumption seems cautious not only because single-parent households have higher rates of poverty and other negative outcomes but also because at the same income level single-parent households are much more likely than married households to make use of government benefits.

In the cautious assumptions used in this analysis, we assume no behavioral effects from marriage on the likelihood of choosing to use government programs, even though (as shown in tables 4, 5, and 6) single-mother households use the Food Stamp, cash assistance, and Medicaid programs at much higher rates than married households with similar incomes.

Family Type

Percent Receiving Food Stamps All Income Levels

Percent Receiving Food Stamps Families Earning < 200% of Poverty Level

Married Male head no spouse present Female head no spouse present

3.9% 8.6% 26.1%

16.2% 21.2% 42.5%

Table 4.Household Income and Usage of Food Stamps

(Source: 2006 CPS)

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