Newly released census figures show a long-standing and glaring contrast: A third of families headed by single mothers are in poverty, and they are four times more likely than married-couple families to be poor. The disparity is on the rise, and as the number of single mothers grows, analysts are debating if more marriages could mean less poverty.
For many conservatives, the answer is simple: Promote marriages as a balm for poverty. Last week, the Heritage Foundation issued a report called “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty.” In his run for the Republican presidential ticket, Rick Santorum proclaimed three simple steps to stay out of poverty: “Work. Graduate from high school. And get married before you have children.”
The calculation came from Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who notes that more than 40 percent of all U.S. births are now outside marriage.
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