Welfare Discourages Marriage

How  Welfare  Discourages  Middle-Class  Marriages

An American article entitled “Marriage, Penalized” was released in late July of this year by scholars from the ‘American Enterprise Institute’ and the ‘Institute for Family Studies’.

marriage-strainedThe researchers who published the article examined the circumstances of a significant number of unmarried couples:

  • whose oldest child is 2 years old or younger; and
  • who earn $24,000 to $79,000 in family income.

Among the examined couples, the study found that 2% to 4% fewer couples marry if doing so would cut their welfare benefits.

The study also found that, on the basis of a survey of Americans aged between 18 and 60, about one third said they knew someone personally who has not married for fear of losing welfare benefits.

The research conducted by one of the articles’ co-authors suggests that the damaging effects of welfare on middle-class marriage rates should concern government policymakers.

At the end of the day, every society has people who can’t support themselves, for example, babies, children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled.  Traditionally, however, the institution of ‘the family’ provided the critical care and protection that these ‘dependent’ people need.

Over the last half-century, however, more Americans have been giving up on ‘traditional family life’ as they rely on the United States’ government to provide for them.

Frighteningly, more than 4 in 10 American families at some point draw on means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid (our equivalent of Medicare) and food stamps.

I’m unsure what the statistics would be in Australia but I’d be surprised if they were less than those that exist in America.

Only two days ago I heard of a long-term married couple who, upon the youngest of them reaching 65, officially separated (although they continue to live under the same roof but, ostensibly, in separate bedrooms) and notified Centrelink accordingly because the total of two single aged pensions is significantly higher than that of an aged pension paid to a married couple!

What a sad world we live in  –  sad both:

  • that people have to do such a thing to survive in retirement; and
  • that the Centrelink system is so easy to exploit or, more to the point, abuse.
Peter Kerin

Peter Kerin

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