[W]e simply must begin to address what we might call America’s “other marriage debate.” It is uncomfortable to talk about, and almost impossible to legislate. But the fact is, the problem of poverty in America is directly linked to family breakdown and the erosion of marriage among low-income families and communities. Implicit marriage penalties in our tax code and welfare programs surely need legislative remedies. But what we’re really talking about is a question of culture, not policy incentives.For years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have employed terms like “family values” and “marriage” primarily as partisan wedges, cudgels to attack ideological opponents. This fact did not create America’s marriage crisis – but it hasn’t helped, either.And now, seemingly every week, scholars are producing more evidence about the social and economic consequences of this essentially moral question. We now have scientific consensus supporting what were once thought to be merely traditions and intuitions. According to one study, the taxpayer costs of family fragmentation are more than $100 billion per year — a staggering sum that nonetheless pales in comparison to the social and human costs, borne disproportionately by innocent children.
November 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM EST