Monday, May 09, 2016

Why Marriage Matters (& Children Diminish in Cohabiting Families)

Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio

I'm reading Why Marriage Matters, Third Edition: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, by U. of Virginia sociologist Bradford Wilcox. This is an empirical study that compares the impact of cohabitation on children and families with marriages. 

The book's main conclusions are: 

  1. The intact, biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States, insofar as children are most likely to thrive-economically, socially, and psychologically in this family form.
  2. Marriage is an important public good, associated with a range of economic, health, educational, and safety benefits that help local, state, and federal governments serve the common good.
  3. The benefits of marriage extend to poor, working-class, and minority communities, despite the fact that marriage has weakened in these communities in the last four decades.
(Kindle Locations 80-83)

"Cohabitation is associated with increased risks of psychological and social problems for children." (Kindle Locations 73-74) This doesn't mean every child living with cohabiting parents is in jeopardy. But: "One nationally representative study of six- to eleven-year-olds found that only 16 percent of children in cohabiting families experienced serious emotional problems. Still, this rate was much higher than the rate for children in families headed by married biological or adoptive parents, which was 4 percent." (Kindle Locations 74-76)