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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Family Research Council Issues Second Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection

Family Research Council's Marriage & Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released its second annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection today. This year's Index delved into the issues of poverty, educational attainment and teenage out of wedlock births in relation to state Index scores.

Study highlights include:

Only 45.8 percent of American children reach the age of 17 with both their biological parents married (since before or around the time of their birth).

The Index of Family Belonging is highest in the Northeast (49.6 percent) and lowest in the South (41.8 percent).

Minnesota (57 percent) and Utah (56.5 percent) have the highest Index of Family Belonging values of all the states; Mississippi (34 percent) has the lowest.

Family belonging is, as in 2008, strongest among Asians (65.8 percent) and weakest among Blacks (16.7 percent).

While the effects of government spending on high school graduation rates are curvilinear and offer diminishing returns, family belonging is positively and significantly associated with high school graduation rates.

Family belonging and child poverty are significantly, inversely related: States with high Index values have relatively low child poverty rates, and vice versa.

There is also a significant, inverse relationship between family belonging and the incidence of births to unmarried teenagers.

MARRI Director Dr. Pat Fagan made the following comments:

"This year's Index of Family Belonging and Rejection shows that the family is hugely important in determining a child's future success or failure. The report shows that states with higher rates of strong families have higher rates of high school graduation as well as higher average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Family structure is actually more closely linked to educational outcomes than government spending.

"States with higher scores on the Index have lower child poverty rates, and states that score low have high child poverty rates. A father is motivated to work harder to support a child when he is the biological parent of the child and lives with the child and mother. Conversely, many non-residential parents do not pay child support, and those that do, do not pay much.

"Research at the individual family level has shown that adolescents who live in single-parent families or stepfamilies are more likely to have out-of-wedlock births. This continues the endless cycle of broken families and childhood poverty.

"Government can do two things to help alter this trend. The first is to help in creating, compiling and publicizing sound research evidence on the links between family living arrangements and youth development, as well as those between family characteristics and community functioning and well-being. The second is in ensuring that governmental policies intended to help those in need do not have unintended consequences that create moral hazard and encourage the formation of more high-risk families," concluded Fagan.

To read the Index of Family Belonging and Rejection, click here: http://marri.frc.org/index-2011 

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