Comments about ‘Can marriage reduce poverty? Marriage rates among the poor have dramatically declined since the '60s’

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Published: Saturday, Sept. 29 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

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DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Cause or effect?

"Cannot afford to get married?"

Is that because they want to spend $$$$$ on a fancy dress and big party, or because they do not want to cut off welfare benefits for "single moms."?

A wedding can cost almost nothing for a civil ceremony, and then a husband and wife living together have one household of expenses, not two. Prudent couples then delay having children until they can afford to raise them. Thus the marriage rate declining among the poor may be more indicative that those who make bad choices and don't bother with marriage, or self discipline tend to be poor than that those who do not marry are doomed to a life of poverty.

Really, folks, We don;t need billion dollar government programs to fix poverty. Just force every kid to listen to Dr. Laura Scheslinger and Dave Ramsey for 2 hours a day and warn them that is they make bad choices that their expenses will be their problem, not to be paid by taxpayers or necessarily by parents.

Anyone can donate to charities to help others, but don't tax people who work hard and live by the rules.

On the other hand
Spanish Fork, UT

Our society places an inordinate value on weddings. Young women in particular look forward to the wedding as their once-in-a-lifetime chance to live the opulent life of a princess. Turns out that a day of royal treatment requires a royal fortune. Not only is it impractical for most couples to throw that much money at a one-time event, it's often downright irresponsible. If marriage is important, let's work to reshape expectations for weddings. If ever there was a time for sensibility, this is it.

Mcallen, TX

Wedding for a woman:

* focus of attention
* does this guy have money?
* hope he doesn't like football.
* how can I change him?
* love his muscles
* my wedding dress
* my diamond ring
* is he better then my old boy friend?

Marriage can reduce poverty if both are in love and would give their life up for each other.


No worf, that's a wedding for a little girl. Women are smarter than that. Of course we didn't get married as soon as we could either.

Fresno, CA


Hope he doesn't like football??? What kind of women do you know? ;)


Education is the key to decreasing poverty. Marriage can be a factor but in and of itself doesn't reduce poverty.

Non-marriage is often a result of poverty and economic insecurity rather than the other way around.
The quality and stability of marriages matters. Prodding couples into matrimony without helping them solve problems that make relationships precarious could leave them worse off.
Two-parent families are not immune from the economic stresses that put children at risk. More than one third of all impoverished young children in the U.S. today live with two parents.
Single parenthood does not inevitably lead to poverty. In countries with a more adequate social safety net than the United States, single parent families are much less likely to live in poverty. Even within the United States, single mothers with high levels of education fare relatively well.

Mcallen, TX


Marriage increases the motivation for learning.

Like many men, I would never had finished college without the influence of my good wife.

In my opinion, poverty increases as marriages decline.

Salt Lake City, UT

If you are going to live together with or without kids you don't need the "big party" just a small get together with a few close friends and family and a justice of the peace to perform the ceremony. It costs a lot less and the love is still strong. maybe after 5 years go on that honeymoon.

The wedding isn't a party the reception is and it's just something that lasts about 15 minutes unless your I believe catholic then it could take up to an hour. You end up with a marriage and that is a lifetime commitment that needs to be worked on every day.

Kaysville, UT

When entitlement programs started their big push 40-50 years ago, children saw their parents work around the system and get cars, homes and even household goods when they didn't even work to get those, except to show up at the unemployment office. Over those years, the situation didn't work for what people got. Wal-Mart and other stores have taken advantage of those people using tax payers through the systems to get their non-durable goods. Those same stores knew that plenty of food money came through those same hands of the government to the entitled people and Wal-Mart and other stores then started providing food goods in their stores in the 1970s and 1980s. Grocery stores in the 1970s started the non-durable goods movement to take advantage of the same tax payer system to provide non-food items that was not included in food stamp issues.

Businesses start up to take advantage of the government system but those are service industries and not production businesses. Washington is full of those types of businesses and government workers who make high end salaries. Span and control requires the government to have many employees not producing economy.

Anoak, MN

Our welfare and tax system provide tremendous financial reasons for couples NOT to marry.
Some couples don't marry because their disability benefits would get cut.

Even more disturbing: I am aware of several couples who essentially commit welfare and tax fraud while living together. The man has a high-paying job. The woman works part-time and has a few children, perhaps involving a deadbeat dad who's not in the picture. Despite sizable household income, she collects all kinds of state aid and gets food stamps. The man claims one of the kids, uses head of household status on his tax return, and gets a tax break with that filing status. The woman gets earned income tax credit (fraudulently, because household income is not disclosed). She knows just how much to make in her job to maximize the credit.

All of this together is worth tens of thousands of dollars a year to each couple. With this kind of economic incentive and the unlikelihood of getting caught in their fraud, they have absolutely no reason to marry, since they would lose all of those benefits.

This kind of fraud is common. The system is broken.

Mom of 8
Hyrum, UT

The claim about not having enough money to get married is just an excuse.

The real problem is that people don't want to commit, because someone better might be just around the corner. Why claim only one cow when you might have a shot at the herd?

People want all the perks of marriage (i.e. sex) without all of the effort. That's "poor thinking," in every sense of the definition.

That's also the definition of immorality, and we've been told for decades it's what will destroy our society.

Salt Lake City, UT

I know I am in the minority here, but I think couples should be given a test to see if they understand the responsibilities of marriage and what resources are available if their marriage runs into trouble in order to get the license. There is too much fantasy about what marriage is, especially for young adults and too many don't know where to turn when problems arise. Education is always a good thing. It would help them appreciate and value more the marriage status bequeathed to them by the state and hopefully help them have successful marriages.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

Unfortunately the tax structure benefits those who live together but do not marry. I suspect that is at least part of the reason people feel "they cannot afford to get married." I also find that for many people today "getting married" means they have decided to have children, which in today's society is a costly venture. There may be other reasons why marriage is beneficial, but I'm not sure it is a cure for poverty.

Harwich, MA

@worf....my observation over the last 60 years says you're spot on about 80% of the time.

South Salt Lake, UT

When I got married in 1976, I bought a long white dress at a sidewalk sale and borrowed my sister's veil. My future husband and I paid $150 for the rings and the food for the reception was paid for by my in-laws since my parents traveled 2,000 miles to be there. I sang "Far from the Home I Love" to my sweetheart and were told by many of those who attended that it was the most moving wedding they had ever attended. We didn't go into debt, but started off our marriage on firm ground because the true meaning and reason to get married were valued above all else. Our marriage is stronger now than ever before because that has been our priority and focus. An expensive party would have done nothing to improve on that.



Foodstamp recipients are required to disclose household income. If you know fraud is occuring you ought to report them, just as you would with any other crime.

Kaysville, UT

In East St. Louis, Illinois, next to Belleville, where we lived for 9 years, people got hooked on welfare in the 1960s as Illinois was one of the highest rates for welfare. People came from everywhere to seige on that city, which was similar to Provo city at the time. The city went down over the past 40 - 50 years and even though the people came for welfare, they ended up with broken families, a city that was corrupted in private and public lives. It was not safe at night and the State took over managing the city and police force. They city had built a lot of high rise low income housing that was beautiful to start with but ended up in shambles and closed due to the type of living it made for people. These families learned that they could make more on welfare if the father's lived separate from the family. Some families had multiple fathers and children from these various unions. Drugs entered into full force, schools suffered, families were distraught, whether married or not. Gambling then came into town and that brought business but not what is good for families. Marriage helps society succeed.

Mcallen, TX


Fantastic! My wife and I were married in 1976, and we had a $150 open house. Today we're out of debt, and happy.--good for you too.

Sacramento, CA

Truthseeker, that is also true of any needs-based assistance program. Anyone on them knows that, and is also required to report changes. Also, I noticed no mention in this article of people who were Medicaid-eligible for disabilities and on SSI, who would marry if they had access to continuing medical care, but who may not be eligible on their potential spouse's medical insurance, or whose insurance would be so costly as to prohibit coverage if they were. This will, in effect, convince the couple in question to not marry in order to preserve the medical care for the vulnerable potential spouse. The Medicaid, were it continued for these people, would answer this problem, as would continuing a reduced SSI payment if they couple is low-income. There are more sides here than some have considered, and all should be looked at.


Some of the respondents on the thread seem to confuse poverty with being on welfare. Many employed and hard working people are nonetheless poor, even without costly addictions, and others, especially fraudulent claimants, may actually do quite well on welfare.

Having got that out of the way I find it remarkable that, having destroyed traditional marriage pretty effectively "institutions of higher learning" seem to be interested in solving the problem they have greatly helped to create in their irreligious an promiscuous society.

We should be encouraging traditional values that include marrying before intimacy, not teaching those despised working class supposed "inferiors" how to get and use contraceptive devices and get cheap abortions.

We ought, on the contrary, to be extolling marriage and increasing personal exemptions to income tax for married couples. We ought, in short, to be rewarding virtue instead of punishing it. If we cannot teach abstinence in our schools or at least warning of the impossibility of guaranteeing that a succession of casual partners will be free from STD's, we ought to leave instruction to churches, parents. good nighborly advice or private philanthropy.

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