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Institute for American Values Institute for Marriage and Public Policy - page 30 / 44

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exceeded the three-person threshold of $14,255. The mother and child would have also met the gross income requirement for food stamps if they lived apart from the father but would [sic] been ineligible if they lived with him. Even if the mother had no income and the family just depended on the father’s resources, they would have been above the poverty line and ineligible for food stamps if they all lived together.55

4. Ignoring the fact that, given income-eligibility, single-mother households are much more likely than married households to take up subsidies from transfer programs underestimates the taxpayer costs.

As shown in tables 4–6, single-mother households have higher take-up rates of gov- ernment antipoverty programs than married households with similar incomes. Thus, even if single-mother households that were instead married households were to remain eligible for transfer programs, it appears they would be less likely to use them. The methods used to estimate the taxpayer cost of family fragmentation at $112 billion ignore this likelihood, and suggest this estimate is too low.

To sum up, this study is likely underestimating the taxpayer cost of family fragmen- tation because (1) there likely would be net savings of EITC expenditures due to any increase in marriage rates of non-cohabitating single parents and savings from other programs not considered here; (2) the estimated costs to the justice system are too low if there is a direct effect of marriage on reducing crime—which seems likely given the research done to date; (3) there are taxpayer costs of single-father households that are ignored here; and (4) the take-up rate of antipoverty programs would likely decline if single-parent households were instead married households that remained eligible for these programs.

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