Marriage and family structure influence the economic and social well-being of children. As Sara McLanahan and Isabel Sawhill note in the most recent issue of Princeton and Brookings’ Future of Children, “most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes.”
Recent research also suggests marriage and family structure matter not just for individual children, but also for the economic and social well-being of entire communities. When it comes to economic mobility, for instance, we know from the work of Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren that “[low]-income children are most likely to succeed in counties” that have “a larger share of two-parent families.”
States, marriages, and mobility
In a new report, Strong Families, Prosperous States: Do Healthy Families Affect the Wealth of States?, we examine state-level associations between family structure and economic mobility, child poverty, median family income, and economic growth.
Do states with more families headed by married parents enjoy greater prosperity and give poor children a better shot at the American Dream? The short answer: “yes.” We find, for example, that states with more married-parent families (e.g., Idaho, Minnesota, Utah, and Washington) have higher per capita GDP, upward income mobility, lower rates of child poverty and higher family incomes than those with fewer married couples (e.g., Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina).