Marriage Is Pro-Growth – The Economy Can’t Do Without It

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 is 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.At a dinner sponsored by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation a couple of weeks ago I gave a talk on the economic importance of marriage. Columnist Cal Thomas was nice enough to write about my talk. And many others have written about this topic. But before I jump into the statistics — which are overwhelmingly in favor of marriage as a means of improving incomes, wealth, and economic growth — let me try a thought experiment.

I worry that we are creating a permanent underclass of poverty. Broken homes and children that have only one parent are at the root of this poverty trap. And when I think of young people from broken families, barely existing economically, this is what I find myself telling them:

Please go to school. Do what it takes to finish high school, be it a trade school, or a tech-related school, and then maybe a community college. You will learn things — how to fix things. And you’ll open the door to a pretty good living.