11.02.2011

Family Restoration Linked with Marriage and Economic Growth Benefits Men, Women and Children

Family restoration is dependent on some key elements in family culture and family law, and it is becoming more evident that marriage, child stability, and money are at the core of that restoration.
 
Family structure is more important for a child's health and well being than whether his or her birth was planned by parents.  Recent empirical evidence from artificial reproduction results tend to reveal that children thrive when they have parental clarity and family stability.  The Washington Times printed an article focused on this; find it here at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/6/family-structure-said-to-trump-wanted-as-key-to-a-/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS.]    

 

And it appears that more evidence illustrates that marriage is the link to that thriving, for children, and for the entire family, particularly regarding economic growth.  Stephanie Hallett of The Huffington Post reported on a recent study that "Marriage, quite literally, is the lifeblood of the economy."  This, according to a new report released last Monday by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, entitled  "The Sustainable Demographic Dividend," examined demographic data, such as census records and consumer expenditure surveys, and concluded that economic growth is dependent on healthy marriages.

 

She writes, "The University of Virginia researchers found that when people get married and have children, seven sectors of the economy experience tenable growth. The specific sectors are: child care, life and personal insurance, household products and services, health care, food, home maintenance/home services, and pets and toys. By contrast, those industries suffer when marriage and fertility rates are low.

Since the recession hit, marriage and fertility rates have been waning. In 2009, the number of babies born in the U.S. dropped by 2.3 percent. Young Americans want to get married and have kids, says Brad Wilcox, lead researcher on the report, most just can't afford to do it given current unemployment, and underemployment, rates.

'So many American young adults, aged 18 to 46, [indicate] that they'd like two or three kids, or that they'd see two or three kids as the ideal family size. That's particularly striking because in the wake of the recession the fertility rate has come down to slightly below two kids on average,' he says. 'What that suggests is that there's a gap between the number of kids young adults would like to have, and the number they're actually having.'"

The major findings in this report point to the notion that a strong economy depends on strong families.  Families provide a future customer base, future workers with important human social capital and they give men an incentive to work harder in the labor force. When either marriage or fertility are waning, in contrast, that can have a negative long-term impact on the economy and on particular industries.

 

People who get married and have children are more likely to spend money in certain sectors of the economy. In particular, the seven areas highlighted in the report are: child care, life and personal insurance, household products and services, health care, food, home maintenance/home services, and pets and toys. This teds to meant that companies like Procter & Gamble, Northwestern Mutual life insurance, Target, Home Depot, these kinds of companies are more likely to flourish when Americans get married and have kids. 

 

Interestingly, the report highlights the importance of men in families. Wilcox points this out with clarity.  "[There is] a real premium that men tend to enjoy when it comes to marriage ... Men who are married tend to earn more than men who are not married. What we think is happening here is that the act of getting married, and often having kids, encourages men to think in terms not just of their own welfare but of the welfare of their families, and to behave more responsibly.... Marriage seems to help men become more responsible, more strategic in their thinking and more oriented towards the long term rather than just having a good time in the present."

 

He also highlights the benefit of male presence to women in marriage, and the destablizing effect of non-marriage.  "[Women are] more likely to accumulate wealth and assets when they get and stay married in part because they're often pooling their income with their spouse, and partially because they and their spouse tend to adopt a more long-term orientation toward their financial well-being rather than a short-term orientation. Marriage is an institution. And Americans often don't recognize the importance of institutions. But there are a set of norms, a set of practices, we associate with marriage. Things like fidelity, for instance, compromise, sacrifice, mutual aid, that we're less likely to associate with things like cohabitation. Of course, the attraction of cohabitation is that it gives people the freedom and flexibility to order their romantic lives as they see fit, but the downside is that that freedom and flexibility don't equal the same degree of commitment or that same degree of long-term orientation. That commitment and that long-term orientation tend to reinforce stability. There's [also] a kind of ritual power to weddings. [They] bring together your friends and your family to see you make a commitment to someone else. [Your friends and family] are implicitly standing not just with you there at that moment in time, but moving forward throughout your relationship. I think that most of us are more committed to, more deliberate about, more hard-working when it comes to our married relationship as compared to our cohabiting relationship, in part because we have stood up before our friends and family and made a commitment about this person and this relationship."

 

These findings also explain why many couples otherwise headed toward divorce are reconsidering a family split. USA Today tracked the story of one New York couple in the midst of that uncertainty [See http://yourlife.usatoday.com/sex-relationships/divorce/story/2011-09-28/Some-couples-pull-back-from-the-edge-of-divorce/50592266/1].  "Adding to the confusion is the financial reality that a split is expensive. Census data released last week suggest that the economy has indeed caused a dip in divorce. Some experts predict a divorce explosion when the economy improves, but others say the recession may keep some together long enough to work it out.

"There's a whole lot more ambivalence out there than any of us ever thought," says psychologist William Doherty, a marriage and family therapist and professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota. He'll present results of his survey in Washington next month, expanding on his research published last spring.

Family restoration linked with marriage produces economic growth, stable healthy children, and benefits men and women as well.

2 comments:

  1. From an intuitive perspective, it makes a lot of sense that marriage and strong family ties stimulates economic activity. That realization carries over into many other facets of life. When a married couple pools their talents, abilities, and time, they can cover each other's weaknesses. For example, when one spouse gets sick, the other can help take care of the other to help the other recover faster and get back to work faster. If that work is a paid position, the reduced time working due to sickness is minimized, resulting in increased productivity and increased wealth creation.

    Here is another example. When one spouse is weak in the administrative details of everyday life, such as mortgage payments or watching savings levels, the other spouse who may be better at those tasks can make sure to pay the mortgage and save properly. As a result, the likelihood of foreclosure is reduced. The average nationwide cost of one foreclosure is $60,000. Much of that cost falls upon private businesses and the government. The taxpayers ultimately cover the cost to the government. Reducing the number of foreclosures increases aggregate national wealth. As a result, spouses can cover the weaknesses of the other.

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