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What Do Marriage and Family Have to Do with Economic Growth?

Posted By Mary Frances Boyle On October 17, 2011 @ 2:00 pm In Culture | Comments Disabled

What do marriage and family have to do with economic growth? A lot, in fact. According to a new international report, there are multiple links between a strong economy and marriage and family.

The Sustainable Demographic Dividend [1]—put together by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project [2], the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada [3], and other universities throughout the world—highlights these links and argues that “the long-term fortunes of the modern economy rise and fall with the family.”

The “great population boom of the last two centuries is waning,” the authors write, and one of the major consequences is a “slowdown in the size of the global workforce.”

Families fuel the economy, and those countries where families decrease in size and quality see negative effects on their economies. Highlighting different examples, the authors of the report argue that marriage and family play key roles “in sustaining long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the profitability of large sectors of the modern economy.”

The authors give multiple reasons for why marriage and family matter in the economy, including:

  • Children raised in intact, married families are more likely to acquire the human and social capital they need to become well-adjusted, productive workers;
  • Men who get and stay married work harder, work smarter, and earn more money than their unmarried peers;
  • Nations wishing to enjoy robust long-term economic growth and viable welfare states must maintain sustainable fertility rates of at least two children per woman; and
  • Key sectors of the modern economy—from household products to insurance to groceries—are more likely to profit when men and women marry and have children.

The authors suggest that in order to preserve families and ultimately strengthen the economy, leaders encourage policy that supports marriage and responsible parenthood:

Business, government, civil society, and ordinary citizens would do well to strengthen the family—in part because the wealth of nations, and the performance of large sectors of the modern economy, is tied to the fortunes of the family.

The Heritage Foundation’s Marshall Plan for Marriage [4] warns that Americans can no longer afford to be neutral on marital breakdown. Data from Heritage’s FamilyFacts.org [5] show that out-of-wedlock birthrate [6]s and cohabitation figures [7] are steadily increasing.

This breakdown of the family has dire implications for the economy and all of civil society. The U.S. should work to halt and reverse current trends by eliminating taxes that penalize marriage, encouraging pro-family messaging, and supporting family life.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/10/17/what-do-marriage-and-family-have-to-do-with-economic-growth/

URLs in this post:

[1] The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6464634/SDD-2011-Final.pdf

[2] National Marriage Project: http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/

[3] Institute of Marriage and Family Canada: http://www.imfcanada.org/default.aspx?cat=0

[4] Marshall Plan for Marriage: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/06/A-Marshall-Plan-for-Marriage-Rebuilding-Our-Shattered-Homes

[5] FamilyFacts.org: http://familyfacts.org/

[6] out-of-wedlock birthrate: http://www.familyfacts.org/charts/205/more-than-four-in-10-children-are-born-to-unwed-mothers

[7] cohabitation figures: http://www.familyfacts.org/charts/110/one-in-10-couples-living-together-is-unmarried

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