Children raised in intact, married families are more likely to acquire the human and social capital they need to become well-adjusted, productive workers, according to a new report from a leading US think tank.
The report, Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What Do Marriage & Fertility Have To Do With The Economy also says that men who get and stay married work harder, work smarter, and earn more money than their unmarried peers.
And it warns that nations wishing to enjoy robust long-term economic growth and viable welfare states must maintain sustainable fertility rates of at least two children per woman.
The report, produced by the Social Trends Institute, argues that business, government, civil society, and ordinary citizens “would do well to strengthen the family—in part because the wealth of nations, and theperformance of large sectors of the modern economy, is tied to the fortunes of the family”.
The report also points says that, in countries like Greece where birth rates are plummeting, social welfare programmes are straining to support growing dependent elderly populations.
Meanwhile productive, working age populations are stagnating or shrinking, the report said.
Demographic trends in marriage and fertility play a central role in fostering long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the health of large sectors of the modern economy, the report says.
Key sectors, it says of the modern economy—from household products to insurance to groceries—are more likely to profit when men and women marry and have children.
One section of the report which traces the economic impact of family purchasing shows that married parents spend more on child care, food at home, healthcare, home maintenance, household products and services, life/personal insurance, and pets and toys, compared to single, childless adults of the same age.
It shows that the profit margins of companies that focus on these sectors of the economy are likely to be linked to the health of the family in the United States—and much of the globe, for that matter.
It demonstrates that married parents devote more time and attention to home maintenance, home improvements, and domestic chores, leading to greater spending in these sectors of the economy.
It adds: “Married parents—especially married men, who continue to be the primary earners in most families today—also spend more money on life insurance than other households. Thus, Anheuser-Busch (a leading brewing company) takes a hit when men and women get in the family way, whereas Northwestern Mutual sees its market share expand.
“In all likelihood, then, many companies would be performing much better today if the U.S. marriage rate had not fallen by half since 1970.”
The report urges companies to use their cultural influence to get behind positive, family-friendly advertisements and public education campaigns and says that governments should increase access to affordable health care and lifelong learning to strengthen the economic foundations of family life.
It also says that public policy “should support marriage and responsible parenthood by, for instance, extending generous tax credits to parents with children in the home and that corporate and public policy “should honor the work-family ideals of all women by giving families the flexibility to pursue their own preferences for juggling work and family”.