'The President's Marriage Agenda': How to reduce suffering for children and strengthen families

Published: Sunday, Dec. 16 2012 12:05 a.m. MST

When she speaks of inequality, she's talking about "the way men and women match up." Income for men has increased more than for women. At the top of the income heap, she said, "the Donald Trumps of the world don't need a high-income wife. But the guy who wants to live in New York City or California, etc., who wants to do well, needs a wife with a six-figure income if he's going to have a nice life there."

In middle America, many women who are doing better than the men in their demographic don't view those men as marriage material, she said. Throw in unemployment, underemployment and general economic instability, and the result is a roller coaster.

"Studies show the greater the inequality in a society, the higher rates of violence, incarceration, teen birth rates, mental illness and other things. All of these things come with greater inequality, aggravated by unemployment or underemployment that feed back into families and stability," Carbone said. "It magnifies inequality and creates these repeated cycles of bad outcomes for kids."

The problem of unstable families can't be solved with welfare, she said, but what can help is the creation of stable jobs, training and not forcing the employee to bear all the risk of a bad economy.

While Lerman agrees the economy impacts marriage, he said the decline in marriage "has occurred in good times and in bad over the last number of years, so it's hard to say that just fixing the economy will solve it. I don't say it's useless, but it's far from a sufficient solution."

State of Our Unions 2012 also contains a proposal for a marriage and relationship education strategy by Theodora Ooms of the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center and Alan J. Hawkins from Brigham Young University.

Familyscholars.org is hosting an interactive symposium highlighting the analysis and a critique by 14 scholars from all over the country who wrote reviews of the report. It will be online Thursday, Dec. 20, and continue through Friday at www.familyscholars.org.

The group welcomes "rigorous, critical engagement in a context of civility," FamilyScholars.org's Rev. Amy Ziettlow said.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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