Welfare Discourages Middle-class Marriages

From the October 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

A study titled “Marriage, Penalized” was released on July 26 by scholars from the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies. In particular, the research examined unwed couples whose oldest child is 2 years old or younger and who earn $24,000 to $79,000 in family income. Among such couples, the study found that 2 to 4 percent fewer people marry if doing so would cut their welfare benefits.

Drawing on anecdotal evidence, the study also found that among Americans ages 18 to 60, about one third said they knew someone personally who has not married for fear of losing welfare benefits. Previous research conducted by W. Bradford Wilcox, one of the study’s coauthors, suggests that the damaging effects of welfare on middle-class marriage rates should concern government policymakers.

Every society has people who can’t support themselves: babies, children, elderly, sick and disabled. Traditionally, the institution of the family provided the care and protection these “dependent” people needed.

Over the last half-century, however, more Americans have been giving up on traditional family life as they rely on the central government to provide for them. More than four in 10 American families at some point draw on means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid and food stamps.