A new report by the American Enterprise Institute documents the connection between stable families and economic growth.
The authors of the report, titled “Strong Families, Prosperous States,” contend that though the word “economics” comes from the Greek word “oikonomia,” which means “management of the household,” economists “have paid little attention to the links between household family structure and the macroeconomic outcomes of nations, states, and societies.”
“This is a major oversight because, as this report shows, shifts in marriage and family structure are important factors in states’ economic performance, including their economic growth, economic mobility, child poverty, and median family income,” the authors wrote.
AEI held a panel event Wednesday to celebrate the release of the report, with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., as keynote speaker.
Sasse called for a “ceasefire” between social and economic conservatives, who he said are linked by “common principles and focused enemies who don’t believe in limited government.”
He said that those seeking “strong and stable families” and those seeking “a prosperous society” are “united by a shared goal.”
If a void is left in a person’s life by a broken family, Sasse argued, “the state will try to rush in and fill that vacuum.”
The report examines the correlation between marriage, families and the economic growth of states.
“Higher levels of marriage, and especially higher levels of married-parent families, are strongly associated with more economic growth, more economic mobility, less child poverty, and higher median family income at the state level in the United States,” was one of the report’s findings.
W. Bradford Wilcox, a visiting scholar at AEI and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, argued that the “role of husband and father is transformative for men,” and that the link between marriage and economic growth is demonstrated by the fact that men who are married with children are more likely to participate in the workforce.
Elisabeth Jacobs, the senior director for policy and academic programs at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, said that there are “strong correlations between marriage rates and economic outcomes,” but which causes the other is unclear.
Mitch Pearlstein, the founder and president of the Center of the American Experiment, agreed.
“It’s a marble cake,” said Pearlstein. “Everything swirls into everything else.”