Posted by: Ken Brown | April 26, 2008

Single-Parenthood Costs $112 Billion A Year?

Various news agencies (e.g. here) are reporting a new study that claims divorce and out of wedlock childrearing costs our country at least $112 billion tax-dollars per year. I’m no statistician, so I wont attempt to judge the accuracy of the study, but if it is even relatively accurate, it’s startling. The study’s sponsors, rightly or wrongly, conclude that this should encourage greater government support for “marriage-strengthening programs,” but the more fundamental need is not for government programs but to reverse our society’s cavalier attitude towards sex and family. Our sexual choices are not, as we so like to believe, merely private and personal. They always have broader effects on the wider community.

On that point, perhaps the most shocking figures to me are not from the conclusions of the study, but from its presuppositions:

Over the last forty years, marriage has become less common and more fragile. Between 1970 and 2005, the proportion of children living with two married parents dropped from 85 percent to 68 percent, according to Census data.

and

More than a third of all U.S. children are now born outside of wedlock, including 25 percent of non-Hispanic white babies, 46 percent of Hispanic babies, and 69 percent of African American babies.

Leaving aside debatable financial costs, these figures represent a massive human tragedy. As a society, we are failing our children, and especially those of minority groups.

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