Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Case for Family Values

What makes people happy?  What makes people successful, even wealthy?

Could it be family values and a traditional marriage and family?

As I write this I know there are thousands of people who would refute it, cite examples, cite their own lives, their friends, their teachers, etc...

Well I'm going to cite the US census and the department of Health and Human Services for the entire United States.

Marriage is disintegrating.  Family values are diminishing.  As the family goes, so goes society.
Here are stats from the U.S. Census:

In 1980: 77% of children lived in two-parent families
In 2010: 69%
In 1970: 40% of all households were married couples with children
In 2010: 20%

Currently: for women under 30, over half of all births occur outside marriage.

An HHS report from 2002 showed:
     1. About half of all recent first marriages are expected to end in divorce.
     2. One-third of all births were out-of-wedlock.
     3. Forty percent of all births occur within cohabiting unions rather than marriages
        a. Children do not fare as well in these alternative family structure forms as children living with their two married biological parents.
     4. Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples, while divorce and unmarried childbearing increase the risk of poverty for children and mothers.
     5. Individuals who are married are found to have better health and longer life expectancies than similar singles.
     6. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than cohabiting or single mothers.
     7. Unhappily married adults who divorce or separate, on average, are no happier than unhappily married adults who stay together

That's not all: lower marriage rates are associated with many bad outcomes.
The University of Virginia found that statistically, those who have less education and consequently lower incomes are less likely to marry and to go to church and much more likely to be involved in crime and to have children outside of marriage.

Opposite of what many had thought, prosperity and education seem to be connected to a higher likelihood of having traditional families and values.

So children do better when born to married parents.  Their mother's are less likely to have depression, their family is more likely to be wealthy, they are more likely to go to church, and less likely to be involved in crime.

Now the question is which is the cause and which is the effect?  Do some sectors of our society have traditional values and stronger families because they are more educated and prosperous, or are they more educated and prosperous because they have those values and strong families?

Does this mean that wealthy, married, educated people are more likely to go to church?  Or that church going people are more likely to marry, get an education, and be wealthy?

People mock family values: they mock church, traditional marriage, waiting till marriage to have sex, etc...etc...etc...

Maybe there is more to these values and families than meets the eye - maybe it's more than just tradition.

1 comment:

Elisa said...

If higher education and income lead to more marriage and marriage leads to children doing better, it seems like it would be difficult to say what was the "cause" of children doing poorly out of wedlock, low-income and education or the lack of marriage leading to lower-income and lack of education. If they did a new study that only looked at those with educated middle to high income people, I would be interested to see if the finding was just as strong. Don't get me wrong I think marriage is good for a society but some of these findings seem overly simplified. Poverty seems to play a significant role many of these findings and marriage alone is not enough to fix that issue.