Marriage as an Antidote to Poverty

Kathleen Parker posted an op-ed in today’s Washington Post about the relationship between poverty and marriage. According to her, strengthening marriages is one of the most effective ways that the government can help to end poverty.

There is much that could be said about that and, given the now-964 comments since this morning, I guess a lot of people have things to say. I’ve just got two.

Does the Government have an Interest in Regulating Marriage?

There is an ongoing debate between those who think that the state does have an interest in regulating marriage (like it is now) and those who think that the state should not regulate marriage. The latter group would prefer to treat marriage as a private matter between the parties, like a contract. Whatever your view on this issue, you can’t overlook the connection between marriage and poverty because the government definitely has an interest in eradicating poverty. Is the government’s interest in fighting poverty enough to justify regulating marriage?

And what other non-obvious effects might marriage have for society? Are people more likely to pay their taxes on time or more likely to exercise or more likely to call their mothers because they’re married?

Why Does Marriage Help End Poverty?

Why there is a connection between marriage and poverty? Parker makes the following connection:

“[M]arriage creates a tiny economy fueled by a magical concoction of love, selflessness and permanent commitment that holds spirits aloft during tough times.”

 I like this explanation. There is certainly something about permanence that keeps one out of the clutches of economic despair.

You are also a lot less likely to do stupid things with your money if you have to answer to someone.