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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Costs of Family Fragmentation

The Institute for American Values has published a report on the cost to Americans for the deterioration of the traditional family. Since 1970 the percent of children living with married parents went from 85% to 68% (2005). Today one-third of all births are to mothers out of wedlock. Potential risks to these children include poverty, higher infant mortality, mental illness, physical illness, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, criminality, failure to complete high-school education, and behavior disorders. It is estimated in this report that marriage could reduce the incidence of many of these problems by as much as 80%.

The disintegration and fragmentation of the family is a sociological problem whose genesis is multifactorial. Loss of respect for the sanctity of marriage, no-fault divorce, abortion, changing roles of men and women, welfare programs that reward and encourage single motherhood and discourage the involvement of men in the raising of children and an economy that nearly requires two breadwinners just to survive and necessitates that we hire strangers to care for infants and pre-schoolers. These, and others, are underlying causes of the decline of the family (and society).

The report from IAV goes further to estimate a dollar cost of this phenomenon. “[W]e estimate that family fragmentation costs U.S. Taxpayers at least $112 billion each and every year.” The report breaks these costs down by state. Of course, states with major metropolitan areas shoulder more of the burden than states that are more rural in their demographics. In any case, the costs are staggering, both in dollars and in destroyed lives. The question is , will we ever have the courage and resolve to implement solutions to this problem?

UPDATE: A case in point.


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