The New Progressive Argument: For Kids, Marriage Per Se Doesn’t Matter

by W. Bradford Wilcox

“Children with married parents are better off — but marriage isn’t the reason why.” This recent headline from the Washington Post’s Emily Badger offers a crystalline summary of the new progressive wisdom about marriage: Yes, we now acknowledge that children do better in married families, but it isn’t marriage per se that matters for the kids. It’s the “money,” “time,” and “good parenting” found at higher rates among the types of parents who are married that really “drive” children’s outcomes, not “marriage itself.” And that’s a good thing because “family income and parenting skills are more realistically addressed through public policy than marriage anyway.”

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