First Things First

For Richer, For Poorer

Does marriage matter? That question has been bantered around for decades.

For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America, research by Dr. Brad Wilcox, senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies and Robert Lerman, professor of economics at American University, examined how family structure impacts the economic fortunes of Americans and their families.

Their conclusion: the institution of marriage is key to productive adulthood, a cornerstone of a stable family and the basic unit of a healthy community.

Five significant findings emerged from this study about the relationships between family patterns and economic well-being in America:

Wilcox and Lerman contend that given the economic importance of strong and stable families, business and civic leaders and policy-makers should be involved in findings ways to strengthen and stabilize marriage and family life in the United States. Lerman and Wilcox believe the efforts should focus on poor and working-class Americans who have been most affected by the nation’s retreat from marriage. Some of the recommendations made by the authors include:

Lerman and Wilcox contend anyone concerned about family inequality, men’s declining labor-force participation and the vitality of the American dream should worry about the nation’s retreat from marriage.



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