Last Saturday, at the Future Wisconsin Conference, U.S. Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI) and State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) spoke about how our welfare programs create a disincentive for marriage–and they’re right. Grothman has done the math for Wisconsin, and his conclusion is if a single mother who has two children and earns $15,000 per year, marries the father of her children (who makes $30,000 per year), she will lose government benefits totaling $37,000 per year. It’s no wonder 41% of births in the U.S. last year were to unwed mothers!
So, not only is the state promoting single-mother households (which are, on average, the poorest nurturing environments for children as far as households go), it’s also creating a cycle of welfare/state dependence as well.
Rep. Petri’s statement at the conference, as reported by WisPolitics.com, “We know that even a troubled marriage with two parents is better for children,” has generated a lot of heat. Naturally, the representative was not talking about the “troubled marriages” involving domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, etc. Common sense alone tells us those households are not good for children.
What he was talking about is actually a documented, social science fact: even unhappy marriages, where the parents stay together, are better for children on every measure than divorced or single-parent households. As far as the adults go, the data show that unhappily married couples who stay together, even without counseling, report being happy with their marriage just five years later.
The Heritage Foundation has an excellent collection of charts graphing how the two-parent family truly is the gold-standard for the health, happiness and future lives of children. Click here to see the HTML version and here for the PDF.