The Massachusetts GOP platform committee voted on its platform last night. The platform does not address gay marriage, but states that traditional marriage is good for society.
Alleged conservatives are up in arms and claim that this will alienate potential supporters, drive away the independents, and cause the conservative movement (which is on the “wrong side of history”) to go down in flames. Now, I’m all for data, so let’s examine the data on the effects of the decline of traditional marriage:
- Almost all of the increase in child poverty since 1970 can be attributed to the rise of single-parent, unwed households.
- Kids whose parents were never married when they were born are five times as likely to wind up in jail as those who were born to married parents. (The latter category even includes kids of divorced parents and widows and widowers.) Approximately 70% of inmates in prison are the product of unwed households, compared to 15% of the same-age general population.
- Unwed parenthood is the equivalent of losing four or five years of education, such that a single mom with a bachelor’s or master’s degree is about equal to a married high school graduate in terms of outcomes for their kids.
- Kids whose parents never married are six times as likely to live in poverty. If our out-of-wedlock childbirth rate were the same as it was in the 1950s, the federal government would save $100 billion per year in direct entitlement spending.
- Kids born to unmarried parents are more likely to drop out of high school, drop out of college if they start college, and have kids out of wedlock. Yay for cycles of poverty!
- That $100 billion figure does not include indirect costs, such as increased crime and costs of imprisoning people (see bullet point #2), the costs of *not* having married families buy houses and build wealth, and the costs of having kids who drop out of high school, etc.
How can a libertarian or a fiscal conservative not support traditional marriage? Leaving aside the issue of gay marriage, if you care about the track that our country is on, you would want kids to be born to married parents. There is simply no way to balance a budget in a society that has a large percentage of children born out of wedlock.
In a caring, just society in which we do not punish kids for their parents’ mistakes, we can either choose to go broke paying for those bad decisions or encourage adults to make good decisions.