Marriage Not Enough to Guarantee Economic Security

Koball, Heather; Douglas-Hall, Ayana

Recent public policy initiatives have encouraged low-income parents to marry as a way to become economically stable. But, the data tell a more complex story. Marriage does not guarantee economic security. Not only do the majority of children in single-parent families have parents who were previously married, more than one in four children with married parents is low income. Even when married, some demographic groups are particularly likely to be low income, which is defined as earning less than twice the poverty level—the minimum necessary to meet families' most basic needs. Among Latinos, more than half of children with married parents are low income. In rural and suburban areas, the majority of low-income children have married parents. Despite high levels of employment, many married parents remain low income. Among children with low-income married parents, a full 95 percent have at least one parent who is employed, and 41 percent have two employed parents.

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National Center for Children in Poverty
National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2010