Here’s a Real Clear Politics editorial from one of the biggest supply-side economics boosters out there.
The greatest economic challenge of our time is how to restore economic growth. Over the past dozen years, average real growth has slowed to 1.8 percent annually, under both Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses. It’s a bipartisan problem.
And it’s a new one. For the past 50 years or so, the American economy grew at just less than 3.5 percent per year. But we’re now experiencing one of the longest slow-growth periods in the past 100 years. Excluding the Great Depression, I bet it is the longest slow-growth period in a century.
There are any number of fiscal and monetary prescriptions for restoring economic growth. As a Reagan supply sider, I would recommend lower marginal tax rates, lighter regulations, limited government and a sound dollar.
But I want to add this to the list: marriage. I have come to believe that marriage is a key element of a stronger economy.
Like any good economist, he’s got the numbers to back it up, too:
Naomi Schaefer Riley writes that “children of married parents are more likely to graduate high school, less likely to go to jail and more likely to delay sexual activity. And of course, children of unmarried parents are more than five times as likely to live in poverty.”
Economic writer Robert Samuelson notes that single-parent families have exploded, that more than 40 percent of births now go to the unwed, and that the flight from marriage “may have subtracted from happiness.” Citing a study from Isabel Sawhill, he notes that some unwed mothers “will have multiple partners and subject their children ‘to a degree of relationship chaos and instability that is hard to grasp.'”
Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore writes “that marriage with a devoted husband and wife in the home is a far better social program than food stamps, Medicaid, public housing or even all of the combined.” Moore points to a Heritage study showing how welfare households are much more likely to have no one working at all, with social assistance becoming a substitute for work.
A recent report from the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, authored by W. Bradford Wilcox and Robert Lerman, reveals that married men have higher average incomes, seem to be more productive at work and work more and earn more. Wilcox and Lerman write that 51 percent of the 1980-2000 decline in male employment is due to the drop in marriage rates, and is highest among unmarried men. They find that “differing employment rates among married and unmarried men aren’t simply due to education levels or race, either.”
They conclude: “Promoting the importance of marriage, looking for ways to reduce marriage penalties in current means-tested welfare programs and engaging leaders at every level to find ways to strengthen marriage in their communities, are other critical steps to take to restore a culture of marriage.”
I’ll only add this, as I did at the Coolidge Foundation dinner: While restoring economic growth may be the great challenge of our time, this goal will never be realized until we restore marriage.
In short, marriage is pro-growth. We can’t do without it.
In case you missed it, there was a nice new study linking marriage to economic growth. It was put out by the American Enterprise Institute, a fiscally conservative think tank. It’s getting to be that fiscal conservatives are more interested in social conservatism than the reverse. Now if only we could get pro-lifers and pro-natural-marriage people to come towards lower taxes, smaller government, less restrictive regulations and a stronger dollar. How about it, social conservatives? Can you you run your family better when government leaves you more money in your pocket? Fiscal conservatism and social conservatism go together like peanut butter and jelly.
By the way, if you’d like to read a remarkable booklet put out by the Heritage Foundation called “Indivisible”, click here. In it, you’ll find well-known social conservatives advocating for fiscal conservatism, and well-known fiscal conservatives advocating for social conservatism. The essays are short and easy to understand. They don’t try to prove everything, just one little point per essay. You’ll find lots of names you recognize in it, like Jennifer Roback Morse, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan and Jay Richards.