Study: Modern economies ‘rise and fall’ with nuclear families

Washington Times 3 Oct 2011
If the wealth of a nation is tied to both the quality and the quantity of its people, then modern trends toward cohabiting instead of marrying, easy divorce and fewer children born to couples will have sweeping economic consequences, a new report says. The “long-term fortunes of the modern economy rise and fall with the family,” the Social Trends Institute says in its new report, “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage and Fertility Have to Do With the Economy?”

…Countries should strive for “sustainable fertility” of at least two children per woman or a total fertility rate of 2.1, the report says. Among developed countries, it adds, the U.S. is an “outlier” with its relatively stable 2.0 fertility rate. Elsewhere, “the average woman in a developed country now bears just 1.66 children,” New America Foundation scholar Phillip Longman writes in the report.

Marriage also matters, the report says. Children raised in married, mother-father homes are the most likely to acquire the skills and behaviors conducive to becoming a “well-adjusted, productive” workforce. Also, “men who get and stay married work harder, work smarter, and earn more money than their unmarried peers.” Married couples with children are also economic “drivers” because they consume many services and goods, especially in child care, groceries, health care, home maintenance, household products, insurance and juvenile products, says W. Bradford Wilcox, associate sociology professor at UVa. and director of the National Marriage Project.
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