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  • Morning Bell: Fathers Who Are Husbands Spare Children from Poverty

    A wedding ring on Dad’s finger is more than a symbol of his commitment to Mom. It also proves to be the ultimate anti-poverty weapon for their children. Now that’s something to celebrate and encourage this Father’s Day. It’s fitting on Sunday to honor all the fathers who strive to keep that commitment, even when they grow weary.

    “The principal cause of child poverty in the U.S. is the absence of married fathers in the home,” Robert Rector, senior research fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, writes in a new paper. “Marriage is a powerful weapon in fighting poverty. Being married has the same effect in reducing poverty as adding five to six years to a parent’s education level.”

    In the paper, accompanied by 12 new charts on marriage and poverty, Rector illustrates the severe social costs of record-high births outside marriage – and of homes without fathers.

    The escalating rate of births to unmarried women four of every 10 babies overall, but more than half the Hispanic births and a staggering seven of every 10 births for blacksis driving the collapse of marriage in America, especially in lower-income neighborhoods.

    As Rector writes:

    Marriage matters. But mentioning the bond between marriage and lower poverty violates the protocols of political correctness. Thus, the main cause of child poverty remains hidden from public view. Since the decline of marriage is the principal cause of child poverty and welfare dependence in the U.S. …it would seem reasonable for government to take steps to strengthen marriage.

    About two of every three poor children live in single-parent households. Yet if poor single moms married the fathers of their children, nearly two out of three would be lifted out of poverty.

    And contrary to the mainstream media line, teen pregnancy is a small part of the picture: In 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, babies born to girls under 18 accounted for 130,000, or 7.5 percent, of the total 1.72 million out-of-wedlock births.

    It’s not as simple as young men “manning up” and becoming the lawfully wedded husbands of their girlfriends, live-in or otherwise. These unmarried mothers tend to be in their 20s, without much income or education. They come to depend on public assistance; many learn how to work the welfare system.

    Research shows that a child raised in a home where Dad is married to Mom is much less likely to live in poverty, get arrested as a juvenile, be suspended or expelled from school, be treated for emotional or behavioral problems, or drop out before completing high school. Taxpayers foot the bill for more than $300 billion a year in means-tested government spending on low-income single moms – and, in relatively rare cases, single dads.

    One budding national leader, himself a young husband and father, nailed the poverty portion of the tragedy of absent fathers when he cited similar statistics five years ago and wrote:

    In light of these facts, policies that strengthen marriage for those who choose it and that discourage unintended births outside of marriage are sensible goals to pursue.

    Those words come from husband, father and then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2006 best-seller “The Audacity of Hope.” He was correct then, and he should implement marriage-strengthening policies today.

    To reinvigorate marriage in lower-income neighborhoods, Rector suggests, government could start by providing facts on the role of healthy marriages in reducing poverty and improving the well-being of children. Why not teach skills for selecting a wife or husband? Why not explain the importance of developing a stable marital relationship before bringing children into the world?

    Nothing could be further from government practice. In social service agencies, welfare offices, schools and popular culture across America, what Rector calls “a deafening silence” reigns on the topic of marriage. The welfare system actively penalizes low-income couples who do get married. He adds:

    For most on the Left, marriage is, at best, an antiquated institution, a red-state superstition. From this viewpoint, the real task is to expand government subsidies as a post-marriage society is built.

    Rather than adopt policies to reverse the 50-year spike in births outside marriage, though, President Obama in his 2011 budget “would eliminate the one program dedicated to encouraging healthy marriage,” notes Jennifer A. Marshall, Heritage’s director of domestic policy studies.

    Marshall writes:

    In its place would be a program promoting a notion of ‘fatherhood’ that doesn’t involve the father being married or in the home. The facts speak for themselves. It’s time more policymakers noticed what the facts are saying.

    Something to think about, Mr. President. Happy Father’s Day.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Morning Bell: Fathers Who Are Husbands Spare Children from Poverty

    1. Ann Winder 389 s. Ho says:

      Happy day someone is promoting Fatherhood. We should all promote such good causes. These stitistics should be shouted from the house tops.

      Thanks for all you do to educate us on the important issues!

    2. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      Without a doubt, there is nothing right about the Left!

    3. Benton Hansen Castle says:

      All I can say to those that have children "man up" . Wether that means being in the home or just paying support for the children. Teenagers need to know that if they have sex, there is a good chance that they will become pregnant. The gov't tells them its okay by giving them money just because they have children. There are so many out there looking to adopt that make hudreds of thousands of dollars and can't have children. The gov't does not have the right to step in but it should not enable either by giving out condoms. Obama even said that the black men should be more envolvede and supportive. But we all know that was a bunch of crap because he was just compaingning. Never the less its true.

    4. Michael Scrimsher Bu says:

      As well said as it gets. As a happily married father of 5, as a taxpayer, and a school board member & small community leader, I see the stark reality of this growing epidemic every day. $300 Billion per year in "subsidies", "economic aid" and whatever other fancy title you want to give it to familes of absent dads. What a waste of human potential, not to mention the sheer economic impact to the whole system. Maybe someday everyone will get the message. Fixing the family will also fix a lot of the so-called "socio-economic" problems we have as well.

      Keep it up, Hertiage.

    5. Steve, Omaha says:

      Good article about economic poverty and the economic impact of absent fathers. There is also developmental poverty suffered by children who do not have fathers active in their lives. John Eldredge writes about the developmental stages for boys/men a boyhood, cowboy, warrior, lover, king and sage and the crucial role to be played by a father in his book Fathered by God. Although Eldredge's main purpose it to encourage men by looking at how God can help them to learn what their fathers never taught them – this book would be helpful for any father seriously interested in examining what he should be doing with his own sons. By extension, this book is helpful in understanding the extraordinary importance of healthy father son relationships.

    6. KC - New Mexico says:

      Wonderful! I am 61, married, have two wonderful and productive children. Both were brought up with American values and have excellent work ethics. I work a primary job during the day and then hold two part time jobs at night. I have worked my butt off for my family, for their education, and overall support. They are now on their own and are successful.

      As a dad, what I do not like is having to support the other SOB's that are too lazy to get a job or moral enough to support their families. They must be democrates who are looking for more entitlements!

      For the majority of dads who are like me – happy father's day this weekend. For the others – get with the program!!

    7. Matthew Daines, Utah says:

      "It’s time more policymakers noticed what the facts are saying."

      Call me cynical, but it's my opinion that policymakers DO notice, and the facts are that husband-less families are exactly what many policymakers want. Keep those poverty-stricken, economically illiterate voters coming.

    8. Doug Schexnayder, Ph says:

      The march of secular socialism requires the secularism first.

      Morals are in the way of being the next Cuba (but done right of course).

      Having 76% black fornication "families" and now 28% non-black fornication "families" is the ideal path to dependency, to demonizing, to promoting victimhood and to growing the monster know as the federal gov-meant.

      Make no mistake…words are ALL you will ever get from the national democrats (aka secular socialists)…at least until those horrible fake families stop voting democrat. Who wants these folks to move up economically and start THINKING before they vote for their long-time slavemasters?

      Too harsh for you? Where have you been for 45 years? Time to grow up. Reality is what it is.

    9. John R. Turner, Ariz says:

      Until people learn to respect the rights of others the problem of unwed mothers will continue. We need to move away from the me, me, me generation and educate everyone on the importance of Family.

    10. Judith in Michigan says:

      Does it not also stand to reason that the more "married families" there are,

      the fewer abortions will be demanded? Do not most abortions involve single women?

      Promoting marriage will not only help ease poverty for all involved, ease taxpayer burdens for poverty programs, thus saving money, and ease the abortion problem

      Communities will become stronger, too.

      It seems to be a Win-Win for everyone.

    11. Rich, Kingwood, Texa says:

      As a former correctionsd officer, I offer anyone, who wishes to know, empirical testimony. Rich

    12. JimQ, Seattle WA says:

      Absolutely right on point! Why can't our "representatives" see this?

    13. Warren Lyckman Hills says:

      I grew up in a family of 9 children who all graduated from high school, 1 became a Registered Nurse, 1 graduated from college and became an English teacher, 2 graduated from UT with BBA degrees and have held responsible positions, one boy was severely wounded in the Pacific war in 1944, 5 of the six boys served in the Military during WW2 and the Korean war one brother became a County Judge, one brother became a sucessful truck driver, one brother became a sucessful rancher and one brother became a sucessful farmer.. All this from 2 loving parents who the father only finished 8th grade and my mother only finished 7 th grade My father at age 24 along with my Uncle at age 22 bought a section of land in West Texas paid for the land on time, most of which was farmed during the great Roosevelt depression

    14. Blair, Franconia, NH says:

      Why don't the Democrats understand this? Bill Clinton, love him or hate him, signed

      welfare reform in 1995, and put an end to "welfare as we know it." As the old country

      song says, "Ain't funny how time slips away?" It seems like the Democrats, and especially, Obama, want to bring back "welfare as we know it" for nothing more than cheap political points. Part of welfare reform was requiring welfare recipients, mainly

      single mothers, to work. New York's David Patterson, a Democrat, wanted an "temporary" law that would have repealed that requirement. It was shot down in the

      New York legislature. AFDC, (Aid for Families with Dependent Children), was enacted

      back in '30s, as a temporary remedy for families who couldn't find work. By the '80s, it had become permanent. Teenagers, black, white, and Hispanic, were getting pregnant and going on welfare because the government told them that it was a way of avoiding responsibility. And where was the father? Out of the picture,

      thanks to the federal government. The federal government would be the father. The federal government would pay the teenaged mother an annual amount of money. Work? No, she couldn't work. If she worked, she'd make too much money.

      Car? No car. If she had a car, she'd have too much money and wouldn't qualify.

      Father? No father. If the father was in the picture, payments would stop. It was easier, cheaper, and more affordable, if the father was out of the picture completely. I'm old enough to remember Ronald Reagan talking about welfare queens——-women who had eight kids by seven different fathers, a new house, and a Cadillac, who were also receiving a welfare check. Ronald Reagan said it best. He said it better than I can say it: "The ten most frightening words in the English language are: 'I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help you."

    15. Bryan, seattle says:

      It is such a terrible trend that today more fathers are becoming single Dads, like myself. Men have had a bad rap for so long. I raised 4 kids by myself and came to know that I knew more single fathers than mothers. I also found that of those men, none were single by choice. The majority had lost their wives due to promotion at work for their wives that put the wives into managerial positions. (Mine included) It was, by in large the women who chose to leave, not only their husbands but their children for; more freedom, work availability and travel.

      We are all told to support our spouses in their endeavors. Just be careful, you could lose her for her success. But at least father's day will be all that much more special.

    16. Linda - Long Island, says:

      I love it when you challenge the President–especially with his own words!

      Keep up your wonderful work.

    17. Greg says:

      Sadly, the reason that many of those remaining unmarried do so because getting married would lift them out of poverty and take them off of some the "entitlements" that we have created as a "Great Society." The permanent welfare state created by that program is just another example of the law of "unintended consequences." While it may have sounded good and humane at the time it has not proven to do most of what was intended and instead destroyed an important part of our moral fabric.

    18. May Day, North Carol says:

      According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Child Support Debt Exceeds $100 Billion As of September 2006, $105 billion in arrears has accumulated nationwide since the child support program began in 1975."

      Ref: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/IM/2008/i

      The article makes some excellent points, one being that individuals should be in a stable marriage prior to having children. Well said.

      The article also suggests that women should be married to their children's father. Again, well said.

      Additionally, it should be said that men should consider marrying the women they have children with and that part of being a good father is providing financial support for the children they created. Evidently, many fathers are not paying child support, which is a significant factor in child poverty. Assistance programs are taxpayer funded payments as compensation for lack of child support monies (although all recipients aren't necessarily parents of minor children). $105 Billion in child support arrears as of 2006 should provide incentive for assistance agencies reducing taxpayer costs by enforcing support payments.

      Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers (married or not) who love, care for, and support their children.

    19. Charles Seip says:

      Government programs for the poor won't help a man or a woman without kid's, a a single woman with kid's gets the most help with the least hassle. It's all about government incentives. They encourage bad behavior.

    20. Sue Marie, Detroit says:

      Great Article!!!! Single parent homes is where progressives get some of their recruits. These kids are misserable and reek havoc on society.

      That is where Clinton and Obama came from. These kids cannot rely on themslves or their families. They survive on government hand outs. That is why progressives encourage this way of life. The more on government assistance or government control the more power the progressives have.

    21. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      The Great Society by Lyndon Baines Johnson "Well intentioned legislation by the illadvised and uninformed with ulterior motives always leads to negative consequences." If you want to see the poster city for the Great Society visit Detroit Michigan. Also, Freakanomics is an excellent read citing statistics that refutes the "good" social legislation is purported to have done. Social legislation doesn't work – period.

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    23. KB in PA says:

      Broken Morals = Broken Families

      Broken Families = Broken Society

      Broken Society = Broken Nation

      If A = B and B = C and C = D, then … Broken Morals = Broken Nation

    24. KLIMAX Baltimore, Ma says:

      I agree 100% with the content of this article !! This has been a touchy subject for years because the minute something is said about fathers married or not ignoring their responsibilities the "Race Card" is played because the numbers prove that minorities are the worst offenders !! It does not matter if the father is white, black, green, or purple it is a huge problem that must be addressed !!!

    25. Bruce Eden, Wayne, N says:

      The problem in this society with regard to fathers lies in the family courts, or more aptly "destruction-of-the-family" courts. They force the father over 90% of the time away from their children and give him crumbs of time under the guise of joint custody. He is then ordered to pay child support based on his income, and not on the children's needs. This causes impoverishment of many fathers, and that's one reason they stop paying support.

      Another reason fathers stop paying support is that they are deprived from having a relationship with their children by recalcitrant mothers. The family courts never enforce parenting time orders at the same draconian vigor they enforce support orders. If more mothers were jailed for parental interference, like dads being jailed for a civil child support debt (unconstitutional anyway since arresting on a civil debt results in debtor's prison, even if the matter is euphemistically called a "violation of a court order"), the parental interference would immediately stop. If it has to do with a civil debt, then it's imprisonment for debt, peonage, and extortion. Federal courts have held that child support is common civil debt, and not a special debt. They've also held one cannot be arrested or jailed on a civil matter.

      Children are growing up without knowing who the other half of their psychological make-up is, and it's not the fault of the fathers. They are summarily removed from their children's lives by outrageous no-fault divorce laws (women file first 80% of the time, even though many men don't want divorce), and the children suffer dramatically.

      Given that fathers are routinely cut out of their childrens' lives by unscrupulous lawyers, ex-spouses, and judges, the time is now to make a uniform law for equal custody and the elimination of the family courts across the nation.

    26. Eugene Kupstas, Kins says:

      Even in the bad old days when fathers simply came home too tired to interact with their children, be closely involved with their lives, and provide the type of leadership at home so often described by such organizations as Focus on the Family, their presence at least gave us a role model, something to strive for.

      Such men as my father were hard workers, took care of the heavy-duty work that women now proudly consider some sort of conquest, and managed to raise children who lead happy, productive, responsible lives on their own, dependent on no one but themselves and God.

      I cannot beam this way about many of the men living in my apartment complex.

    27. think says:

      It's too bad that people think this can be pinned entirely on any single political party. It's hilarious, that some folks think real sex education will make this worse.

      I can't comprehend that some people think that marriage is "conservative" value… or that being a responsible parent is a "conservative" value. I value marriage, and I value it enough to put money into campaigning for my glbt friends to enjoy the benefits. I don't believe you could find anyone short of an anarchist that would say that children growing up in a single parent home is a good idea.

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    29. Billie says:

      The dignity of a man, to carry out his responsibility to keep his family together and provide for his own, is more than noble. God Bless parents who teach their children well.

    30. Barbara, LA says:

      Just my 2 cents worth. YEARS ago, when I went on welfare for a year (the most humiliating thing I experienced) when my husband and I got back together, I called the county to tell them they could take me off of their rolls…seems to me that they would be ecstatic. They said ok, but they would have to send us a bill to reimburse them for the money they had paid me while I was separated. We did pay them back (I believe it was 1000.00+ can't remember but it was 1979 so that was a lot of money then). To me, this discourages couples from reuniting because so many would NOT be able to pay back so it's cheaper just to stay single. If anything, that experience taught me that you NEVER get something for free…especially when it's coming from the government.

    31. Bruce Decker says:

      There is a good reason why the government doesn't support marriage. It would reduce dependence on the government and lower the importance of those who dispense the largess.

      Our government has destroyed the American Indian family, largely by demeaning the men as providers and protectors. Likewise, the Great Society made the Black male superfluous to the family. Today, Black men look to the gang and athletics for their sense of importance and accomplishment.

      As the role of the male and unit family has decreased, the value of the woman in the eyes of the men has decreased. The Woman, who used to be the foundation on which civility was based and passed through generations has become a foul mouthed, promiscuous exhibitionist.

      All of this is based on the great compassionate hearts of our successful society at large and of the legislatures at all levels trying to deal with their feelings of guilt for being industrious and successful.

    32. C Knight, Falls Chur says:

      I love you Morning Bell. Thank you for your insightful article on the importance of marriage and fathers.

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    34. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      As the son of a man who was in WW11 and Korea, my brother and I were taught from an early age that if we were ever to get a girl pregnant, we would Marry her. It was the honorable and Manly and proper thing to do, and as Men, our responsibility to the woman and the child.

      I live in Oregon, a State with close to 50% of its population Illegals. When a couple apply for Government assistance, not married, they are told that they do not qualify because they have no children. forty five days later, they qualify, still no marriage.

      When my wife and myself watch Judge Judy, on most all the cases involving a couple suing each other and children are a result of their relationship, they are not married. In fact, the fathers have fathered several children by several women, as if it were some type of duty for them to do so.

      Of course all these women qualify for government assistance, but the question really is, what makes these so called men, most of minority class, think that there is nothing wrong in their acts?

      These are not Men, in my opinion, but merely Breeders who run around impregnating welfare momas and future welfare momas and then suck off the monies provided by the government meant for the children.

      They also do not contribute any child support in the way of regular weekly cash for the feeding and care of these children they produce.

      I do not know what to call these people without cussing, but most certainly are not Men, and they are not Fathers.

    35. Bob Green, Austin, T says:

      Bruce Eden has nailed most of the points regarding a corrupt system of laws that is specifically designed by "family lawyers" and the state bars to keep divorce proceedings as adversarial as possible, a "full employment and revenue enhancement code," if you will. As someone who has worked as a volunteer doing bill analyses and giving testimony to legislative committees in Texas since the mid-'80s, I can honestly attest that the progress on childrens' and fathers' rights issues has been painstakenly slow, almost exclusively due to groups of lawyers donating to and lobbying legislators to pass laws that facilitate divorce for any reason ("no fault"), even if there are minor children involved, and presume that only one parent (mom) should be awarded primary custody. Therefore, the court battles continue, income is "redistributed," and children are the ultimate victims of the now broken home.

      Where there is little "blood" to be squeezed from the father

      "turnip," many men just give up trying to fight a system that is stacked so heavily against them. Their sons grow up finding their male role models "on the street;" and their daughters grow up without a biological father's guidance about the type of man they should look for in a husband. In a desperate seach for love, both sexes gravitate toward promiscuity and the usual outcome of such activity — out-of-wedlock births — and the circle of poverty and welfare dependence continues for yet another generation.

      On this Father's Day, I want to congratulate ALL of the fathers out there who have not given up the fight to remain a vital part of their childrens' lives, despite the best efforts of the state to define their "value" solely on their ability to pay child support, but have no say whatsoever regarding the purposes for which those monies are spent. Never give up!

    36. Drew Page, IL says:

      You can thank the moral relativism of the "Progressives" in our society for the illegetimate birth rate and the number of fatherless children and women in poverty to day. It all starts with their attitude of "Who are you to say what's right and wrong, who made you judge?" As a result, nothing is really wrong, so anything goes. To Progressives, there is no difference between fathers and mothers; there's nothing a father can provide children that a mother can't provide by herself, so what's the big deal? Homosexuals "marrying" and adopting children? Sure, no problem, why not? If it feels good, do it. Consequences? Hey, that's what the government is there for, to make sure there are no consequences.

      Of course the "Progressives" will say that fatherless, impoverished children are not the fault of irresponsible children. They will blame society (those of us who work, support our families and pay taxes) for not paying enough to make sure all these impoverished kids get top quality educations, tutoring, better home environments, nice clothes, etc. "Progressives" call this social justice; they either don't understand cause and effect, or consider it irrelevant.

      To all fathers out there who bust their butts every day taking care of their kids, supporting them, spending time with them, giving them hugs, and teaching them right from wrong (and there are such things, regardless of what the "Progressives" say) — HAPPY FATHERS DAY.

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    38. Steve Skeete says:

      "In light of these facts, policies that strengthen marriage for those who choose it and that discourage unintended births outside of marriage are sensible goals to pursue".

      The above quotation is extremely puzzling, and not unlike many statements by the same individual.

      Should we seek to "strengthen" marriage overall or only for those who "choose it."? What is wrong with supporting the institution of marriage and "encouraging" persons to get married? And how do you discourage something that is "unintended"? I can understand "discouraging" pre-marital sex, or sex without condoms. It seem to me that (by looking at the abortion statistics since 1973) millions of births are "unintended".

      By strenghtening the institution of marriage through promoting it as something positive and helpful to the individual and the nation, by extension you discourage unintended births "outside of marriage".

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