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Table of Contents

The Benefits of Marriage


Executive Summary ................................ 1 Marriage .............................................. 2 Divorce ................................................ 3 Cohabitation/Out of Wedlock Births 4

Tables of Counties
Marriage Rates ..................................... 1 Divorce Rates ...................................... 3 Birth to Unwed Mothers .................... 5 Married Couple Families ..................... 7 Unmarried Partner Households ........... 9 Divorces Among Adults Age 50+ ........... 11 Stepchildren ........................................ 13 Children With Unmarried Parent ........ 15 Divorced or Separated Adults ............. 17 Never Married Adults Over 30 ............ 19 Average Rank ........................................ 21
This project was conducted by Nicholas Monterosso, a law student at the University of Michigan and a Blackstone Fellow with Alliance Defending Freedom.

About Michigan Family Forum


Our Core Values
The family is the fundamental institution in a civil society. Healthy, lifelong marriages are beneficial to adults and offer the best environment in which to raise children and care for elders. The involvement of responsible fathers is essential to the economic, emotional, and social health of children. Children need the protection of stable families and a healthy understanding of human sexuality. Elders deserve to have security and care provided by loving family members in a comfortable home environment.

Other Resources Available


What Every Child Needs: The Unique Contributions of Fathers and Mothers Sex Education: Rights and Responsibilities in Michigan Law Infant Adoption in Michigan: Reviving a vanishing phenomenon Policy Briefs Research briefs on marriage, out-of-wedlock sexual activity and fatherhood

All resources are available by contacting us or by visiting our website:


www.michiganfamily.org

Executive Summary
The goal of this publication is to provide decision makers in Michigan with data, and now trends in data, from which to make prudent policy decisions for their communities. Family Health Indicators was first published in 2003, based on 2000 U.S. Census Bureau and 2001 Michigan Department of Community Health data. This edition expands upon the first by providing another snapshot, this time from 2010 data from the same sources. We also provide an updated review of some of the best research focused on the effects of family structure on parents, children, and society. The research is unified and clear: Marriage benefits society. For the partners, it is correlated with better physical and mental health, higher educational outcomes, and higher incomes. The same is true for their children. Married biological parents provide the environment for healthier, happier, and better-educated children. For society, healthier, happier, and wealthier adults and children have less need of expensive government programs, including welfare programs and prisons. With the benefits of marriage in mind, it ought to stir the citizens of this state to look into the data on family structure provided herein. For nearly every indicator we measured, the health of Michigans families declined from 2000-2010. The statewide marriage rate has decreased, while births to unwed mothers, unmarried parent households, and divorces among people age 50 and over have all increased. While the overall picture in Michigan is a grim one, there are variations among our 83 counties. The five counties with the biggest increases in average rank across all 11 indicators are Marquette, Ingham, Charlevoix, Huron, and Washtenaw. In essence, these five counties made the biggest improvements in family health. The five counties with the biggest decreases in average rank are Luce, Alger, Mackinac, Dickinson, and Tuscola. If these trends continue, these last five listed counties can expect increases in the need for government spending on programs to remediate the effects of broken families. Research shows that, generally speaking, the best outcomes for children and adults for a healthy, happy, wealthy life come from an intact married family with biological parents of children. At the other end of the spectrum, showing the worst average outcomes, are single mothers and their children. The five counties seeing the biggest decrease in marriage rate are Lake, Dickinson, Eaton, Osceola, and Oceana. The five counties with the biggest increase in percentage of children born to unwed mothers are Alger, Gogebic, Otsego, Mackinac, and Clare. It is incumbent upon the members of each of these communities to look deeper into the trends in family structure and to make meaningful, long-term decisions to change the direction of our society.

Family Health Indicators, 2012 ed.

The Irreplaceable Benefits of Marriage


Marriage
In 1996, Congress stated in Section 101 of Public Law 104-193, Marriage is the foundation of a successful society. It is a bold claim; it begs for proof. Fortunately, it is a claim backed by a vast literature from prominent sociologists, psychologists, doctors, and economists. Before we create robust policies to support and encourage marriage, we must understand the tangible benefits of marriage for the partners and children involved. We must also understand the consequences of divorce and for children born to single or cohabiting parents. Then we can begin to understand the effects of marriage and divorce on our broader society and accordingly make prudent policy decisions. Marriage provides numerous benefits for the partners involved. Married men and women have significantly higher levels of happiness than persons who are single or cohabitating (Stack & Eshleman, 1998, p. 534). Married women and men are less depressed and exhibit fewer alcohol problems (Horwitz, White, & Howell-White, 1996, p. 900). Married men have a lower mortality risk in early adulthood than single men (Murray, 2000, p. 519). Marriage promotes survival in cancer patients (Wang, Wilson, Stewart, & Hollenbeak, 2011, p. 421). Married people are also more likely to own their homes, even for those with a low income (Grinstein-Weiss, Charles, Guo, Manturuk, & Key, 2011, p. 492). As married couples age together, more benefits emerge. Married couples are better prepared to enter retirement, with resources such as pensions, than never-married or divorced individuals (Yabiku, 2000, p. 309). Marriage provides significant health benefits to those in retirement age in terms of support for those experiencing chronic diseases, functioning problems and disabilities (Pienta, Hayward, & Jenkins, 2000, p. 569). It can also help elderly people cope with stressful situations. In fact, marriage helps mitigate the depressive effects of neighborhood disorder in older adults (Bierman, 2009, p. 430). While some contend that marriage is used to oppress women, it actually protects them better than any other family structure. The U.S. Department of Justices data shows that married women are three times less likely to be victims of general violence and threats of violence (at the hands of their spouse/partner or anyone else), including sexual assault, than women who are single, cohabitating, or divorced (Stanton, 2010, p. 2; U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). The positive effects of marriage reach to the children as well. Glenn T. Stanton of Focus on the Family states, A child living with two married parents is more than three times less likely to be living in poverty than a child living with either a single or cohabitating mother or both unmarried biological parents (Stanton, 2010, p. 2). Marriage positively impacts both the grade point average and attendance of high school students (Ham, 2004, p. 169). Even marriage after the birth of an out-of-wedlock child can benefit the childs early cognitive development (Liu & Heiland, 2012, p. 26). Todays children are

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the next generation of Michiganders, and they are best nurtured within the marriage of their biological parents.

Divorce
As good as marriage is for society, the negative affects of divorce are equally startling. Divorce not only severs the once-loving bond between a man and woman, it weakens the ties among other family members, depletes family wealth, and is associated with negative outcomes for children. For the couple that divorces, negative consequences abound. According to Ananat and Michaels, Divorce increases poverty and income inequality for women with children (2008, p. 625). Despite legislation to the contrary, divorce also exposes people to risk of losing their health insurance (Zimmer, 2007, p. 105). Divorce weakens womens economic well-being (Smock, Manning, & Gupta, 1999, p. 810). The negative consequences of divorce on children are well documented and difficult to overstate. The prevalence of divorce in a state is positively correlated with childhood poverty (Kickham & Ford, 2009, p. 853). Divorce not only strains relationships between parents and children, it also damages relationships between siblings (Milevsky, 2004, p. 124). Children whose parents are divorced tend to consume alcohol more frequently and in larger quantities than children from intact families (Jeynes, 2001, p. 314). Children of divorce as far away as China experience increased incidence of depression and anxiety (Dong, Wang, & Ollendick, 2002, p. 108). Worse yet, one divorce tends to beget another. Parents attitudes toward divorce are a strong influence on childrens attitudes toward divorce (Kapinus, 2003, p. 155). Furthermore, children whose parents divorce are more likely to divorce as adults than children whose parents remain in a high discord marriage (Amato & DeBoer, 2001, p. 1044). They may be set up to fail from day one of marriage. One study found that children whose parents divorce more often enter marriage under circumstances boding poorly for the long-term success of the marriage (Wolfinger, 2003, p. 93). Divorce even damages the long-term care prospects between children and their divorced parents. Children of divorced parents are less likely to care for their elderly parents, especially their fathers (Lin, 2008, p. 123; Pezzin & Schone, 1999, p. 294). In short, divorce is more than dissolution of the bond between one man and one woman. It rips apart the supportive netting of whole families, in every area from economics to psychology.

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Cohabitation and Out of Wedlock Births


Cohabitation of unmarried parents does not lead to the same benefits as marriage. Cohabiting couples are less committed to one another and have less satisfaction in their relationships (Nock, 1995, pp. 67, 69). Men who cohabit have more alcohol problems than either single or married men; women who cohabit have more alcohol problems than married women (Horwitz & White, 1998, p. 511). In terms of employment, education, and earnings, a parent and cohabiting partner more closely resemble a single parent family than they do a married couple family (Manning & Lichter, 1996, pp. 1008, 1009). The benefits of marriage are also not present for children living with cohabitating parents. Children living with unmarried biological parents are three times more likely to be living in poverty than those living with married parents (Krieder, 2008; Stanton, 2010, p. 2). Children in cohabiting families are also likely to spend less time living with both parents. One study found that children born to married parents will spend 84% of their childhood in two-parent families, even though many will experience parental divorce; children of cohabiting parents will spend less than half their childhood with married parents (Bumpass & Lu, 2000, p. 38). Children raised by a single parentmost commonly a single motherare in the worst position of all. Coughlin states, Children in single-mother families at age 10 were more than twice as likely to be arrested by age 14 as children with two biological parents in residence (1996, p. 498). Children born to young, unmarried mothers suffer in their cognitive development, particularly in areas of math and reading (Cooksey, 1997, pp. 254, 255). According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the family structure yielding the highest percentage of children in poverty is the single-mother family (Krieder, 2008; Stanton, 2010, p. 2). Family structure also affects crime rates. Boys raised by single mothers are about three times as likely to commit a crime that results in incarceration compared to boys raised by both married parents (Harper & McLanahan, 2004, pp. 380-381).

Changes in Family Health in Michigan from 2000-2010


2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Michigan Department of Community Health show that family structure in Michigan is in greater trouble than it was in 2000. The statewide numbers nearly all point to a weakening of traditional family bonds. The marriage rate decreased by more than 20%. The percent of children born to single mothers increased by almost 8%. Households with unmarried partners (cohabitation) increased by 24%. Divorces among those age 50 and over increased by 13%. Adults living divorced or separated increased by 1%. Adults age 30 never married increased by 2%. Eventually, these purportedly private issues of marriage, divorce, and out-of-wedlock births become problematic for local governments. Michigan Public Act 4 of 2011 has been a iv Family Health Indicators, 2012 ed.

controversial law in recent years. At the time of publication, there are currently four cities (Flint, Ecorse, Pontiac, and Benton Harbor) and three school districts (Muskegon Heights, Highland Park, and Detroit) in Michigan with emergency financial managers (Burdziak, 2012, p. 1). All three school districts and three out of four of those cities are located in counties falling in the bottom 40% of all Michigan counties in terms of average rank in our Family Health Indicators 2010 data. Pontiac is the only outlier among the four cities; however, city-level data reveals that Pontiacs family health statistics are dramatically lower than those for Oakland County, where the city is located (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). There is at least a correlation between broken families and their local governments struggling to stay solvent. Some question whether marriage is a process that self-selects participants who are already wealthy, skewing the data that shows a correlation between marriage and wealth. There are numerous studies showing that married people are wealthier on average than single, cohabitating, and divorced people. While income is a support to the stability of families and marriage leads to higher income, a high income is not necessary for a healthy family culture. Take, for instance, Houghton County. While Houghton Countys per capita income ranks 80th among Michigans 83 counties, the county ranks 9th when all 10 indicators of family health are averaged. It is in the bottom 10 counties in income, but in the top 10 for family health. As a broader example, among the top 10 counties for family health, the average per capita income rank among them is 21st place. So, while the counties tend to be in the top-half in both income and family health, the data does not show that high incomes are required to maintain a healthy family culture.

Conclusion
The academic literature is clear. Married, two-parent families provide the best environment for parents and children alike. Those who choose to start families with different structures put themselves and their children at risk for poorer mental and physical health, increased chances of living in poverty, and lower educational outcomes. Still, the data shows that over the last ten years, Michigan has seen steep increases in out of wedlock births and cohabitation. These factors taken together mean that our state will face the reality of a more needy population. Policy decisions will need to be made in order to deal with the shortfalls of our states students and workers. At the conclusion of this publication we suggest policies that, if enacted immediately, could help Michiganders to deal with these growing problems. But first, a look at the data is in order.

Family Health Indicators, 2012 ed.

Reference List
Amato, P., & DeBoer, D. D. (2001). The transmission of marital instability across generations: Relationship skills or commitment to marriage? Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(4), 1038-1051. Ananat, E. O., & Michaels, G. (2008). The effect of marital breakup on the income distribution of women with children. Journal of Human Resources, 43(3), 611-629. Bierman, A. (2009). Marital status as contingency for the effects of neighborhood disorder on older adults mental health. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences , 64(3), 425-434. Bumpass, L., & Lu, H. (2000). Trends in cohabitation and implications for childrens family contexts in the United States. Population Studies, 54(1), 29-41. Burdziak, A. (2012). STATE: Supreme court to hear arguments on EM repeal ballot question. The News Herald. Retrieved from http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2012/07/13/news/doc4ffdeeed1791b866528889.prt. Cooksey, E. C. (1997). Consequences of young mothers marital histories for childrens cognitive development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 59(2), 245-261. Coughlin, C., & Vuchinich, S. (1996). Family experience in preadolescence and the development of male delinquency. Journal of Marriage and Family, 58(2), 491-501. Dong, Q., Wang, Y., & Ollendick, T. H. (2002). Consequences of divorce on the adjustment of children in China. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31(1), 101-110. Grinstein-Weiss, M., Charles, P., Guo, S., Manturuk, K., & Key, C. (2011). The effect of marital status on home ownership among low-income households. Social Service Review, 85(3), 475-503. Ham, B. D. (2004). The effects of divorce and remarriage on the academic achievement of high school seniors. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 42(1-2), 159-178. Harper, C. C., & McLanahan, S. S. (2004). Father absence and youth incarceration. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14(3), 369-397. Horwitz, A. V., & White, H. R. (1998). The relationship of cohabitation and mental health: A study of a young adult cohort. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60(2), 505-514. Horwitz, A. V., White, H. R., & Howell-White, S. (1996). Becoming married and mental health: A longitudinal study of a cohort of young adults. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58(4), 895-907. Jeynes, W. (2001). The effects of recent parental divorce on their childrens consumption of alcohol. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30(3), 305-319. Kapinus, C. A. (2003). The effect of relationship experiences and parents attitudes on young adults views of divorce. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 39(3-4), 143-157. Kickham, K., & Ford, D. A. (2009). Are state marriage initiatives having an effect? An initial exploration of the impact on divorce and childhood poverty rates. Public Administration Review, 69(5), 846-854. Krieder, R (2008). Living arrangements of children: 2004. Current Populations Reports, U.S. Census Bureau [table 2, page 6]. Lin, I. (2008). Consequences of parental divorce for adult childrens support of their frail parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(1), 113-128. Liu, S. H., & Heiland, F. (2012). Should we get married? The effect of parents marriage on out-of-wedlock children. Economic Inquiry, 50(1), 17-38.

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Manning, W., & Lichter, D. (1996). Parental cohabitation and childrens economic well -being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 58(4), 998-1010. Milevsky, A. (2004). Perceived parental marital satisfaction and divorce: Effects on sibling relations in emerging adults. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 41(1-2), 115-128. Murray, J. E. (2000). Marital protection and marital selection: Evidence from a historical-prospective sample of American men. Demography, 37(4), 511-521. Nock, S. (1995). A comparison of marriages and cohabitating relationships. Journal of Family Issues, 16(1), 5376. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-193, 101(1), 110 Stat. 2105 (1996). Pezzin, L. E., & Schone, B. S. (1999). Parental marital disruption and intergenerational transfers: An analysis of lone elderly parents and their children. Demography, 36(3), 287-297. Pienta, A. M., Hayward, M. D., & Jenkins, K. R. (2000). Health consequences of marriage for the retirement years. Journal of Family Issues, 21(5), 559-586. Smock, P., Manning, W., & Gupta, S. (1999). The effect of marriage and divorce on womens economic well being. American Sociological Review, 64(6), 794-812. Stack, S., & Eshleman, J. R. (1998). Marital status and happiness: A 17 nation study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60(2), 527-536. Stanton, G. T. (2010). Healthy families: A communitys most effective social justice agent. FocusFamilyINSIGHT, 2. United States Census Bureau. (2009). 2009 American community survey 5-year estimates: Census tracts 14101427. Retrieved July 25, 2012, from http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/searchresults.xhtml?ref=top&refresh=t. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2010). Criminal victimization in the United States, 2007 - statistical tables [table 12]. National Crime Victimization Survey. Wang, L., Wilson, S. E., Stewart, D. B., & Hollenbeak, C. S. (2011). Marital status and colon cancer outcomes in U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries: Does marriage affect cancer survival by gender and stage? Cancer Epidemiology, 35(5), 417-422. Wolfinger, N. H. (2003). Family structure homogamy: The effects of parental divorce on partner selection and marital stability. Social Science Research, 32(1), 80-97. Yabiku, S. (2000). Family history and pensions: The relationships between marriage, divorce, children, and private pension coverage. Journal of Aging Studies, 14(3), 293-312. Zimmer, D. M. (2007). Asymmetric effects of marital separation on health insurance among men and women. Contemporary Economic Policy, 25(1), 92-106.

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