The Brookings Institution says that if we had the marriage rate today that we had in 1970, there would be a 25 percent drop in poverty.  The Heritage Foundation says that marriage drops the probability of a child living in poverty by 82 percent.

This week we focus on Valentine’s Day; and while a celebration of romance is great, we should also celebrate marriage as a valuable culmination of romance, because it’s not just about love, but ultimately about providing a better life for the children of America.

If you graduate from high school, work full time, and postpone marriage and childbearing until after the age of 21, your chances of being in poverty are only 2 percent
The decline of marriage is complex and multi-faceted—high divorce rates, increasing cohabitation, and high rates of out-of-wedlock births (42 percent of all U.S. babies today) have all contributed to the drop in marriage. Here are five reasons why we need to start a movement to re-value and strengthen marriage:

1. The decline of marriage hurts the working and lower class.

Recent findings show that in working class white America, only 37 percent of children are living with both their mother and father (compared to 96% in 1960). 

In upper class America, the numbers are better—84 percent of children live with both their parents (compared to 99% in 1960).  

We can’t ignore the overwhelming research that shows marriage brings greater financial stability to families, and single motherhood is the leading cause of poverty for both women and children.

It’s astounding that recently, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Human Resource Commissioner Robert Doar was reported to be planning a campaign to promote marriage for “the outcome of the child,” since 70 percent of all babies born in the Bronx are born to unwed mothers.  

Most Americans feel compassion for the working 28-year-old single woman who finds herself in an unwanted circumstance and courageously chooses to give life and to raise her child alone. They understand her desire to maintain financial stability, and her hopes for marriage as part of her future. 

But the growing epidemic of births to single mothers that NYC Commissioner Doar wants to address is coming from women who are choosing to put themselves in unwed pregnancy, very often during their teenage years, and who have no means of financial self sufficiency nor any expectation or plan that the father will be a constant presence and legal provider.