Culture Beat / Aug. 4, 2016

Welfare Is Not Friendly to Family Formation

The "marriage penalty" is real, and it's hampering family development.

The last thing couples should face when contemplating tying the knot is a “marriage penalty.” Sadly, thanks to America’s onerous welfare system, that’s something many couples are taking into account. “Does Social-Welfare Policy Affect Family Formation?” That’s the question at the heart of a new study, “Marriage, Penalized,” by researchers W. Bradford Wilcox, Joseph P. Price, and Angela Rachidi. The evidence, while not comprehensive, does appear to draw a link between welfare eligibility and marriage among certain groups.

According to the study, “Today, more than four in ten families in America receive some kind of means-tested government assistance, from Medicaid to food stamps. The expanding reach of the welfare state means that a substantial share of lower-middle-class couples with children receive such aid — and many of these couples receive more generous support if they are unmarried [emphasis added]. That’s especially the case if their total income as a cohabiting couple is not considered in determining their eligibility for assistance, as often appears to be the case.” As the authors go on to deduce, “To use the term of public policy analysts, these couples face a ‘marriage penalty,’ where it makes more financial sense for them to cohabit rather than marry.” For example:

“Our analysis of American couples whose oldest child is two years or younger indicates that 82 percent of those in the second and third quintiles of family income ($24,000 to $79,000) face this kind of marriage penalty when it comes to Medicaid, cash welfare, or food stamps. By contrast, only 66 percent of their counterparts in the bottom quintile (less than $24,000) face such a penalty.”

This translates to a form of marriage disincentive for some couples. “In sum,” the executive summary adds, “our findings suggest that marriage penalties related to means-tested benefits do not discourage marriage among the poorest families in the U.S. But marriage penalties may play a role in discouraging marriage among lower-middle-class families.” The welfare state, though its designers had good intentions, has many problems, one of which the evidence suggests is a detrimental effect on the family — a core feature of a healthy, bedrock society.

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.