21 reasons why marriage matters

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The National Marriage Coalition is a coalition of like minded organisations who believe that marriage is, ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

Every child has a fundamental right to both a mother and a father. The best way to secure this right is to establish a loving and stable marriage between a man and woman for life. Therefore marriage should be encouraged, strengthened and supported by government, society and individuals in every possible way.

Australian marriages need the full economic and legal protection of the Australian government. The greatest resource Australia possesses lies in the families of our nation. The strength of Australian families depends on the qualities of the relationships between our nation’s mothers and fathers. Therefore the quality of our nation’s marital relationships will determine the destiny of Australia.

We believe that marriage is beautiful and sacred. It is the ultimate expression of a loving commitment between a man and a woman . . . for life.

The National Marriage Coalition believes that there should be a coordinated national government campaign to publicise the benefits of marriage. The following document demonstrates the tremendous benefits and advantages of heterosexual marriage. Thus marriage needs the full support of government at every stage and every level including premarital counselling, marriage education, marriage enrichment and pre-divorce counselling. The National Marriage Coalition believes that there needs to be a massive increase in government funding to support and strengthen Australian marriages.

“We believe that marriage is beautiful and sacred. It is the ultimate expression of a loving commitment between a man and a woman . . . for life. In our experience, as a newly wed husband and wife, we have shared incredible joys, many adjustments and new experiences as we begin our new life together. Our future is bright because we believe the foundation we have set of love, trust, faith and respect will carry us through all seasons of life. We would love to encourage others to share in the joys that only marriage can bring.”

Twenty-One Reasons WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS

What do we know about the importance of marriage for children, for adults and for society? There has been a sharp increase over the last two generations in the proportion of children who do not live with their own two married parents, spurred first largely by increases in divorce, and more recently by large jumps in unmarried or cohabiting childbearing. A vigorous public debate sparked by these changes in family structure has generated a growing body of social science literature on the consequences of family fragmentation.

This report is an attempt to summarize this large body of scientific research into a succinct form useful to Australians, Americans and others on all sides of ongoing family debates — to report what we know about the importance of marriage in our family and social system.

Marriage has changed a great deal over the past two generations, including increased incidence and social acceptance of divorce, cohabitation, premarital sex, and unwed childbearing. Other important changes include dramatic increases in the proportion of working wives, reduced tolerance for domestic violence, and a change in gender roles. Over the past 40 years, both men and women have become increasingly likely to support greater participation by men in the household and women in the labor force, and less sharp differentiation between women’s and men’s roles. Yet when it comes to the benefits of marriage, research shows more impressive evidence of continuity than change or decline.

Social science is better equipped to document whether certain social facts are true than to say why they are true. We can assert more definitively that marriage is associated with powerful social goods than that marriage is the sole or main cause of these goods.

Good research seeks to tease out what scholars call “selection effects,” or the pre-existing differences between individuals who decide to divorce, marry, or become unwed parents. Does divorce cause poverty, for example, or is it simply that poor people are more likely to divorce? Good social science attempts to distinguish between causal relationships and mere correlations in a variety of ways. The studies cited here are for the most part based on large, nationally representative samples that control for race, family background, and other confounding factors. In many, but not all cases, social scientists have been able to use longitudinal data to track individuals as they marry, divorce or stay single, increasing our confidence that marriage itself matters. Where the evidence is, in our view, overwhelming that marriage causes increases in well-being, we say so. Where marriage probably does so but the causal pathways are not as well understood, we are more cautious.

We recognize that, in using absent random assignment to marriage, divorce or single parenting, social scientists must always acknowledge the possibility that other factors are influencing outcomes. (For example, relatively few family-structure studies attempt to assess the role of genetics.) Reasonable scholars may and do disagree on the existence and extent of such selection effects and the extent to which marriage is causally related to the better social outcomes reported here.

And of course individual circumstances vary.1 While divorce is associated with serious increased psychological risks for children, for example, the majority of children of divorce are not mentally ill.2 While marriage is a social good, not all marriages are equal. Research does not generally support the idea that remarriage is better for children than living with a single mother.3 Marriages that are unhappy do not have the same benefits as the average marriage.4 Divorce or separation provides an important escape hatch for children and adults in violent or high-conflict marriages. Families, communities, and policy makers interested in distributing the benefits of marriage more equally must do more than merely discourage legal divorce.

Social science is typically better equipped to answer general questions (Are high rates of divorce and unwed childbearing likely to reduce overall child well-being?) than to answer questions facing individual parents (Will my particular children in my particular circumstances be harmed or helped by divorce?).

But we believe good social science, despite its inherent limitations, is a better guide to social policy than uninformed opinion or prejudice. The public and policy makers deserve to hear what research suggests about the consequences of marriage and its absence for children and adults. This report represents our best judgment of what the current social science evidence reveals about the importance of marriage in our social system.

Here is our fundamental conclusion: Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.

Family structure and processes are of course only one factor contributing to child and social well-being. Our discussion here is not meant to minimize the importance of other social and economic factors, such as poverty, child support, unemployment, neighbourhood safety, or the quality of education for both parents and children.

But whether our society succeeds or fails in building a healthy marriage culture is clearly a matter of legitimate public concern.

Introduction

WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS - a report from the Social Sciences

1. Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children.

Mothers as well as fathers are affected by the absence of marriage. Single mothers on average report more conflict with and less monitoring of their children than do married mothers.5 As adults, children from intact marriages report being closer to their mothers on average than do children of divorce.6 In one nationally representative study, 30 percent of young adults whose parents divorced reported poor relationships with their mothers, compared to 16 percent of children whose parents stayed married.7

But children’s relationships with their fathers are at even greater risk. Sixty-five percent of young adults whose parents divorced had poor relationships with their fathers (compared to 29 percent from non divorced families).8 On average, children whose parents divorce or never marry see their fathers less frequently 9 and have less affectionate relationships with their fathers10 than do children whose parents got and stayed married. Divorce appears to have an even greater negative effect on relationships between fathers and their children than remaining in an unhappy marriage.11

2. Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage.

As a group, cohabitors in the United States and Australia more closely resemble singles than married people.12 Children with cohabiting parents have outcomes more similar to the children living with single (or remarried) parents than children from intact marriages.13 Adults who live together are more similar to singles than to married couples in terms of physical health14 and emotional well-being and mental health,15 as well as in assets and earnings.16

Selection effects account for a large portion of the difference between married people and cohabitors. As a group, cohabitors (who are not engaged) have lower incomes and less education.17 Couples who live together also, on average, report relationships of lower quality than do married couples — with cohabitors reporting more conflict, more violence, and lower levels of satisfaction and commitment.18 Even biological parents who cohabit have poorer quality relationships and are more likely to part than parents who marry.19 Cohabitation differs from marriage in part because couples who choose merely to live together are less committed to a lifelong relationship.20

Adults who live together are more similar to singles than to married couples in terms of physical health.

Family

3. Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.

Children whose parents divorce or fail to marry are more likely to become young unwed parents, to divorce themselves, and to have unhappy marriages and/or relationships.21 Daughters raised outside of intact marriages are approximately three times more likely to end up young, unwed mothers than are children whose parents married and stayed married.22 Parental divorce approximately doubles the odds that adult children will also divorce. Divorce is apparently most likely to be transmitted across the generations when parents in relatively low-conflict marriages divorced.23

4. Marriage is a virtually universal human institution.

Marriage exists in virtually every known human society.24 Exactly what family forms existed in prehistoric society is not known, and the shape of human marriage varies considerably in different cultural contexts. But at least since the beginning of recorded history, in all the flourishing varieties of human cultures documented by anthropologists, marriage has been a universal human institution. As a virtually universal human idea, marriage is about regulating the reproduction of children, families, and society. While marriage systems differ (and not every person or class within a society marries), marriage across societies is a publicly acknowledged and supported sexual union which creates kinship obligations and sharing of resources between men, women, and the children that their sexual union may produce.

Married men appear to have greater work commitment, lower quit rates, and healthier and more stable personal routines .

Economics

6. Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.

Marriage seems to be a wealth-creating institution. Married couples build more wealth on average than do otherwise similar singles or cohabiting couples, even after controlling for income.34 The economic advantages of marriage stem from more than just access to two incomes. Marriage partners appear to build more wealth for some of the same reasons that partnerships in general are economically efficient, including economies of scale and specialization and exchange. Marital social norms that encourage healthy, productive behaviour and wealth accumulation (such as buying a home) also appear to play a role. Married parents also more often receive wealth transfers from both sets of grandparents than do cohabiting couples; single mothers almost never receive financial help from fathers’ kin.35

A survey conducted by the Australian National University found that an unmarried person needs to earn $70,000 a year to be as happy as a married person on a family income of $20,000 a year. The survey also noted that money “is a less important ingredient of a satisfying life than marriage and church going.”36

7. Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.

A large body of research, from a number of developed countries, finds that married men earn between 10 and 40 percent more than do single men with similar education and job histories.37 While selection effects may account for part of the marriage premium,38 the most sophisticated, recent research appears to confirm that marriage itself increases the earning power of men, on the order of 15 percent.39

Why do married men earn more? The causes are not entirely understood, but married men appear to have greater work commitment, lower quit rates, and healthier and more stable personal routines (including sleep, diet and alcohol consumption). Husbands also benefit from both the work effort and emotional support that they receive from wives.40

5. Divorce and unmarried child bearing increase poverty for both children and mothers.

Research has consistently shown that both divorce25 and unmarried child bearing26 increase the economic vulnerability of both children and mothers. The effects of family structure on poverty remain powerful, even after controlling for race and family background. Changes in family structure are an important cause of new entries into poverty (although a decline in the earnings of the household head is the single most important cause). Child poverty rates are very high primarily because of the growth of single-parent families.27 When parents fail to marry and stay married, children are more likely to experience deep and persistent poverty, even after controlling for race and family background. The majority of children who grow up outside of intact married families experience at least one year of dire poverty (family incomes less than half the official poverty threshold).28 Divorce as well as unmarried child bearing plays a role: Between one-fifth and one-third of divorcing women end up in poverty following the divorce.29

In Australia, a study of 500 divorcees with children five to eight years after the separation found that four in five divorced mothers were dependent on social security after their marriages dissolved. Also, mothers still suffer income losses of up to 26 per cent five to eight years after divorce.30 Moreover, figures from Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research show that family break-up, rather than unemployment, is the main cause of the rise in poverty levels in Australia.31

Research from the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University has further demonstrated this strong link between poverty and single-parent families. As of September 1996, 43.3 per cent of poor families were headed by lone parents.32 Recent research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that half of single parents are on welfare. The study showed that 52 per cent of one-parent families are living in a household where the parent is not working.33

8. Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure.

Parental divorce or nonmarriage has a significant, long-term negative impact on children’s educational attainment. Children of divorced or unwed parents have lower grades and other measures of academic achievement, are more likely to be held back, and are more likely to drop out of high school.41 The effects of parental divorce or nonmarriage on children’s educational attainment remain significant even after controlling for race and family background. Children whose parents divorce end up with significantly lower levels of education than do children in single-mother families created by the death of the father.42 Children whose parents remarry do no better, on average, than do children who live with single mothers.43

An Australian survey of 512 children found that children of cohabiting couples were assessed by their teachers to be performing at lower levels in language, mathematics, social studies and sport than children of wedded parents.44

The Western Australian Child Health Survey in 1997 found that 30 per cent of children from sole-parent families were low academic performers, compared with 17 per cent from couple families.45 Australian research has also found that children from two-parent families have a better chance of getting a job than those from sole-parent families.46

A study of Australian primary school children from three family types (married heterosexual couples, cohabiting heterosexual couples and homosexual couples) found that in every area of educational endeavour (language; mathematics; social studies; sport; class work, sociability and popularity; and attitudes to learning), children from married heterosexual couples performed better than the other two groups. The study concludes with these words: “Married couples seem to offer the best environment for a child’s social and educational development”.47

A Melbourne University study of 212 children found that fathers, even more than mothers, had a major beneficial influence on children in their first year of school. The study found that kids with regular father involvement were more cooperative and self-reliant in school than kids who did not have father involvement. The more regular involvement the father has with the child, the study’s author said, the better the child does in his or her first year of school.48

9. Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from university and achieve high-status jobs.

Parental divorce appears to have long-term consequences on children’s socioeconomic attainment. While most children of divorce do not drop out of high school or become unemployed, as adults, children of divorced parents have lower occupational status and earnings and have increased rates of unemployment and economic hardship.49 They are less likely to attend and graduate from university and also less likely to attend and graduate from four-year and highly selective university, even after controlling for family background and academic and extracurricular achievements.50

Education

As adults, children of divorced parents have lower occupational status and earnings and have increased rates of unemployment.

10. Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.

Divorce and unmarried child bearing appear to have negative effects on children’s physical health and life expectancy.51 Longitudinal research suggests that parental divorce increases the incidence of health problems in children.52 The health advantages of married homes remain, even after taking socioeconomic status into account.

The health disadvantages associated with being raised outside of intact marriages persist long into adulthood. Even in Sweden, a country with extensive supports for single mothers and a nationalized health care system, adults raised in single-parent homes were more likely to report that their health was poor and/or to die (during the study period) than were those from intact homes; this finding remained after controlling for economic hardship.53

One study which followed a sample of academically gifted, middle-class children for 70 years found that parental divorce reduced a child’s life expectancy by four years, even after controlling for childhood health status and family background, as well as personality characteristics such as impulsiveness and emotional instability.54 Another analysis found that 40 year old men whose parents had divorced were three times more likely to die than were 40 year old men whose parents stayed married: “It does appear,” the researchers conclude, “that parental divorce sets off a negative chain of events, which contribute to a higher mortality risk among individuals from divorced homes. . ..”55

Physical Health and Longevity

11. Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality.

Babies born to married parents have lower rates of infant mortality. On average, having an unmarried mother is associated with an approximately 50 percent increase in the risk of infant mortality.56 US studies show while parental marital status predicts infant mortality in both blacks and whites, the increased risk due to the mother’s marital status is greatest among the most advantaged: white mothers over the age of 20.57

The cause of this relationship between marital status and infant mortality is not well known. There are many selection effects involved: Unmarried mothers are more likely to be young, black, less educated and poor than are married mothers. But even after controlling for age, race, and education, children born to unwed mothers generally have higher rates of infant mortality.58 While unmarried mothers are also less likely to get early prenatal care, infant mortality rates in these instances are higher not only in the neonatal period, but through infancy59 and even early childhood.60 Children born to unmarried mothers have an increased incidence of both intentional and unintentional fatal injuries.61 Marital status remains a powerful predictor of infant mortality, even in countries with nationalized health care systems and strong supports for single mothers.62

12. Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens.

Married men and women have lower rates of alcohol consumption and abuse than do singles. Longitudinal research confirms that young adults who marry tend to reduce their rates of alcohol consumption and illegal drug use.63 Children whose parents marry and stay married also have lower rates of substance abuse, even after controlling for family background.64 Twice as many young teens in single-mother families and step families have tried marijuana (and young teens living with single fathers were three times as likely). Young teens whose parents stay married are also the least likely to experiment with tobacco or alcohol.65 Data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse show that, even after controlling for age, race, gender, and family income, teens living with both biological parents are significantly less likely to use illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.66

The health disadvantages associated with being raised outside of intact marriages persist long into adulthood.

14. Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.

Both married men and women enjoy better health on average than do single or divorced individuals.75 Selection effects regarding divorce or remarriage may account for part of this differential, although research has found no consistent pattern of such selection.76 Married people appear to manage illness better, monitor each other’s health, have higher incomes and wealth, and adopt healthier lifestyles than do otherwise similar singles.77

A recent study of the health effects of marriage drawn from 9,333 respondents to the Health and Retirement Survey of Americans between the ages of 51 and 61 compared the incidence of major diseases, as well as functional disability, in married, cohabiting, divorced, widowed, and never-married individuals. “Without exception,” the authors report, “married persons have the lowest rates of morbidity for each of the diseases, impairments, functioning problems and disabilities.” Marital status differences in disability remained “dramatic” even after controlling for age, sex, and race/ethnicity.78

A major study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 1994 found that married people have less insomnia and are less nervous than previously married or never married people. It also found that married people have less ulcers than the previously married, although about the same amount as the never married. Married people also smoked less and used less alcohol than never married or previously married people.79

A National Health Survey of 19,000 Australians released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in October 1997 found that separated, divorced and widowed people think they are in poorer health than their married and de facto contemporaries.80

Finally, an Australian study found that cancer, diabetes and heart disease are all about 40 per cent higher among previously married men and women.81

How does family fragmentation relate to teen drug use? Many pathways are probably involved, including increased family stress, reduced parental monitoring and weakened attachment to parents, especially fathers.67

John Embling, from the Melbourne-based Families in Distress Foundation, is well aware of the harmful effects on children of parental break up. He has spent 30 years working with such children. Says Embling, “The children are in diabolical need. I could take you into these households and show you what it’s like for kids to try to cope when mum is on drugs or drink, there’s no bloke around worth a cracker and primary school kids have to get themselves up and off to school.”68

13. Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.

Married people live longer than do otherwise similar people who are single or divorced. Husbands as well as wives live longer on average, even after controlling for race, income and family background.69 In most developed countries, middle-aged single, divorced, or widowed men are about twice as likely to die as married men, and non married women face risks about one and a half times as great as those faced by married women.70

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the median age of death for non-married men in 1992 was 52.2 years, but the figure leaps to 72.5 years for married men. However, never-married Australian women live slightly longer than married women (74.2 years to 70.1 years).71 Findings of the Australian National Health Strategy show that: “Both men and women who are married have much lower standardised death rates than those who are not. Compared with their married counterparts, never married men have a death rate which is 124% higher and divorced/widowed men have a death rate which is 102% higher; never-married women have a death rate which is 91% higher and divorced widowed women have a death rate which is 49% higher.”72

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study of 1994 found that never married and previously married people had mortality rates twice that of married people.73 An Australian Bureau of Statistics study reported the following: “In 1996 married people overall experienced lower death rates than those who were divorced, widowed or never married. Males aged between 20 and 69 years who had never married experienced death rates two to four times higher than those who were married.”74

Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being

15. Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.

Divorce typically causes children considerable emotional distress and increases the risk of serious mental illness.82 These mental health risks do not dissipate soon after the divorce. Instead, children of divorce remain at higher risk for depression and other mental illness, in part because of reduced education attainment, increased risk of divorce, marital problems, and economic hardship.83 The psychological effects of divorce appear to differ, depending on the level of conflict between parents. When marital conflict is high and sustained, children benefit psychologically from divorce. While more research is needed, the majority of divorces appear to be taking place among low-conflict spouses.84

16. Divorce appears significantly to increase the risk of suicide.

High rates of family fragmentation are associated with an increased risk of suicide among both adults and adolescents.85 Divorced men and women are more than twice as likely as their married counterparts to attempt suicide.86 Although women have lower rates of suicide overall, married women were also substantially less likely to commit suicide than were divorced, widowed, or never-married women.87 In the last half-century, suicide rates among teens and young adults have tripled. The single “most important explanatory variable,” according to one new study, “is the increased share of youths living in homes with a divorced parent.” The effect, note the researchers, “is large,” explaining “as much as two-thirds of the increase in youth suicides” over time.88

In Australia, a recent study found that “never-married men had [suicide] mortality levels 89-90% higher than the standard rates and married men 43-25% below the standard rates, while divorced and widowed men also had elevated [suicide] mortality levels.” Similar trends were found among women as well.89 Other research has found that suicide rates among men and women in Australia were three times higher than among married people.90

Figures from the ABS have shown that divorced males aged between 35 and 44 are the most likely to take their own life in Australia, while married people are the least likely to suicide.91 And the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study of 1994 found that never married and previously married people had three times the suicide rates of married people.92

More recent ABS figures point in the same direction. In the 1995-1997 period, married people (9 per 100,000 persons) were less likely to die from suicide than those who were never married (22), widowed (13) or divorced (26 per 100,000 persons).93

And a recent study recorded in the Australian Medical Journal by Dr Chris Cantor of Griffith University found that separated males are six times more likely to commit suicide than married men.94 And a more recent study by the Institute of Health and Welfare found that divorced men are at least three times as likely to commit suicide as any other group.95

Divorce typically causes children considerable emotional distress and increases the risk of serious mental illness.

17. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers.

The absence of marriage is a serious risk factor for maternal depression. Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or co-habiting mothers.96 One study of 2,300 urban adults found that, among parents of preschoolers, the risk of depression was substantially greater for unmarried as compared to married mothers.97 Marriage protects even older teen mothers from the risk of depression. In one nationally representative sample of 18 and 19 year old mothers, 41 percent of single white mothers having their first child reported high levels of depressive symptoms, compared to 28 percent of married white teen mothers in this age group.98

Longitudinal studies following young adults as they marry, divorce, and remain single indicate that marriage boosts mental and emotional well-being for both men and women.99 We focus on maternal depression because it is both a serious mental health problem for women and a serious risk factor for children.100 Not only are single mothers more likely to be depressed, the consequences of maternal depression for child well-being are greater in single-parent families, probably because single parents have less support and because children in disrupted families have less access to their (non depressed) other parent.101

Australian research shows that in terms of mental health, “never-married men suffer more from not being married than never-married women. But in all other categories women show a higher level of benefit from marriage than men. Separated, widowed, and divorced men were 55 percent above the male average in rates of mental illness while the separated/widowed and divorced category of women had rates 67 percent above the women’s average.”102

The 1994 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study found that married people are three times happier than previously married people, and twice as happy as never married people.103

More recent Australian data reveal the same findings. An Australian Unity Wellbeing Index released in July 2002 found that married people were those with the most happiness and greatest sense of wellbeing. Married people scored 77.7 per cent on the personal wellbeing test compared to 65.1 per cent for those who were separated.104

18. Boys raised in single-parent families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behaviour.

Even after controlling for factors such as race, mother’s education, neighbourhood quality, and cognitive ability, boys raised in single-parent homes are about twice as likely (and boys raised in step families are three times as likely) to have committed a crime that leads to incarceration by the time they reach their early thirties.105

Teens in both one-parent and remarried homes display more deviant behaviour and commit more delinquent acts than do teens whose parents stayed married.106 Teens in one-parent families are on average less attached to their parent’s opinions and more attached to their peer groups. Combined with lower levels of parental supervision, these attitudes appear to set the stage for delinquent behaviour.107 The effects of marital status on delinquency may be stronger for whites than for African-Americans.108

In Australia, a recent book by Alan Tapper highlights this connection between broken families and crime. In a study of rising crime rates in Western Australia, Tapper suggests that “family breakdown in the form of divorce and separation is the main cause of the crime wave”.109

A longitudinal study of 512 Australian children found that there are more offenders coming from families of cohabiting than married couples, and there are proportionally more offenders who become recidivists coming from families of cohabiting than married couples. The study concludes, “The relationship between cohabitation and delinquency is beyond contention: children of cohabiting couples are more likely to be found among offenders than children of married couples”.110

Those who work with juvenile offenders in Australia confirm these findings. John Smith of Care and Communication Concern in Melbourne has spent nearly two decades working with homeless youth and young offenders. He says that “almost 100 per cent” of these kids are from “single parent families or blended families”.111 And a recent New Zealand study found that 64.6 per cent of juvenile offenders had no birth father present.112

Crime and Domestic Violence

Overall, single and divorced women are four to five times more likely to be victims of violent crime.

19. Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime.

Overall, single and divorced women are four to five times more likely to be victims of violent crime in any given year than are married women. Single and divorced women are almost ten times more likely than are wives to be raped, and about three times more likely to be the victims of aggravated assault. Similarly, compared to husbands, unmarried men are about four times as likely to become victims of violent crime.113

A study of 500 chronic juvenile offenders found that those who married and stayed married reduced their offence rate by two-thirds, compared to criminals who did not marry or who did not establish good marriages.114 Married men spend more time with their wives, who discourage criminal behaviour, and less time with peers, who often do not.

As one leading family expert has summarised the findings: “Australian studies with adequate samples have shown parental divorce to be a risk factor for a wide range of social and psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood, including poor academic achievement, low self-esteem, psychological distress, delinquency and recidivism, substance use and abuse, sexual precocity, adult criminal offending, depression, and suicidal behaviour.”115 He concludes: “There is no scientific justification for disregarding the public health significance of marital dissolution in Australia, especially with respect to mental heath.”

20. Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women.

Domestic violence remains a serious problem both inside and outside of marriage.

While young women must recognize that marriage is not a good strategy for reforming violent men, a large body of research shows that being unmarried, and especially living with a man outside of marriage, is associated with an increased risk of domestic abuse.116 One analysis of the US National Survey of Families and Households found that cohabitors were over three times more likely than spouses to say that arguments became physical over the last year (13 percent of cohabitors versus 4 percent of spouses). Even after controlling for race, age, and education, people who live together are still more likely than married people to report violent arguments.117 Overall, as one scholar sums up the relevant research, “Regardless of methodology, the studies yielded similar results: Cohabitors engage in more violence than do spouses.”118

Selection effects play a powerful role. Women are less likely to marry, and more likely to divorce, violent men.119 However, scholars suggest that the greater integration of married men into the community, and the greater investment of spouses in each other, also play a role.120 Married men, for example, are more responsive to policies such as mandatory arrest policies, designed to signal strong disapproval of domestic violence.121

21. A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse. Children living with single mothers, stepfathers, or mother’s boyfriends are more likely to become victims of child abuse. Children living in single-mother homes have increased rates of death from intentional injuries.122 As Martin Daly and Margo Wilson report, “Living with a step parent has turned out to be the most powerful predictor of severe child abuse yet.”123 One study found that a preschooler living with a stepfather was 40 times more likely to be sexually abused than one living with both of his or her biological parents.124 Another study found that, although boyfriends contribute less than 2 percent of non parental childcare, they commit half of all reported child abuse by non parents. The researcher concludes that “a young child left alone with a mother’s boy-friend experiences elevated risk of physical abuse.”125

In Australia, former Human Rights Commissioner Brian Burdekin stated that there was an alarming 500 to 600 per cent increase in sexual abuse of girls in families where the adult male was not the natural father.126

A 1994-95 study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that more cases of child abuse involved children from single parent families (39%) than families with two natural parents (30%) or other two-parent families (such as families with a step-parent) (21%). Of neglect cases, 47% involved children from female single parent families compared with 26% from families with two natural parents.127 More recent Australian research has found that the typical child murderer is a young man in a de facto relationship with the victim’s mother.128

A recent study of 1998-1999 Victorian child abuse victims found that 45 per cent lived with single parents. The report, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found that children who lived in natural two-parent families had a relatively low risk of abuse.129 And a more recent report from the same Institute entitled Child Protection Australia 1999-2000 reveals that children are most likely to be neglected or abused in single-parent families. It found that the ACT has the highest rate of maltreatment of children from female one-parent families (47 per cent), compared with 29 per cent in two-parent natural families and 18 per cent in step families or blended families.130

And a newer report from the same body found that “a relatively high proportion of substantiations [of child abuse] involved children living in female-headed one-parent families and in two-parent step or blended families.”131

Marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is also a social good. Not every person can or should marry. And not every child raised outside of marriage is damaged as a result. But communities where good-enough marriages are common have better outcomes for children, women, and men than do communities suffering from high rates of divorce, unmarried child bearing, and high-conflict or violent marriages. As policy makers concerned about social inequality and child well-being think about how to strengthen marriage, more funding is needed for research into both the causes of the marriage gap in child and social well-being and ways to close that gap. Solid research is pointing the way toward new family and community interventions to help strengthen marriage.

Conclusion

Ongoing, basic scientific re-search on marriage and marital dynamics contributes to the development of strategies and programs for helping to strengthen marriages and reduce unnecessary divorce.132

Who benefits from marriage and why? How can we prevent both divorce and the damage from divorce? How can families, counsellors, communities, and public policy help at-risk and disadvantaged parents build healthy marriages?

If marriage is not merely a private preference, but also a social good, concerned members of our society, as well as academics, need and deserve answers to questions like these.

Marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is also a social good.

Endnotes

  • 1. See for example, R.E. Heyman et al., 2001. “The Hazards of Predicting Divorce without Crossvalidation,” Journal of Marriage and Family 63: 473-479.
  • 2. E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, 2002. For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (New York: W.W. Norton & Co.).
  • 3. For example, Hanson et al. find that remarriage decreases parental supervision and lowers college expectations for children. McLanahan and Sandefur show that children whose mothers remarried had no higher rate of high school graduation (or lower levels of teen childbearing) than did children living with single mothers. T. Hanson et. al., 1998. “Windows on Divorce: Before and After,” Social Science Research 27: 329-349; Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, 1994. Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
  • 4. See for example, Kristi Williams, 2001. “Has the Future of Marriage Arrived? A Contemporary Examination of the Effects of Marital Status and Marital Quality on the Psychological Well-Being of Women and Men,” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council on Family Relations. (Rochester, NY).
  • 5. Alan C. Acock and David H. Demo, 1994. Family Diversity and Well-Being (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage).
  • 6. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, 1997. A Generation At Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
  • 7. Nicholas Zill et al., 1993. “Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment, and Achievement in Young Adulthood,” Journal of Family Psychology 7(1): 91-103.
  • 8. Nicholas Zill et al., 1993. “Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment, and Achievement in Young Adulthood,” Journal of Family Psychology 7(1): 91-103; E. Mavis Hetherington, in a study of largely white middle-class children, reports that two-third of young men and three-quarters of young women whose parents divorced did not have close relationships with either their father or a stepfather. E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, 2002. For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (New York: W.W. Norton & Co.).
  • 9. J.A. Seltzer and S.M. Bianchi, 1988. “Children’s Contact with Absent Parents,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 50: 663-677.
  • 10. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, 1997. A Generation At Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press); William S. Aquilino, 1994. “Impact of Childhood Family Disruption on Young Adults’ Relationships with Parents,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56: 295-313; Teresa M. Cooney, 1994. “Young Adults’ Relations with Parents: The Influence of Recent Parental Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56: 45-56; Alice Rossi and Peter Rossi, 1990. Of Human Bonding: Parent-Child Relations Across the Life Course (New York: Aldine de Gruyter).
  • 11. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, 1997. A Generation At Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
  • 12. Steven Nock, 1995. “A Comparison of Marriages and Cohabiting Relationships,” Journal of Family Issues 16: 53-76; Ronald R. Rindfuss and Audrey VandenHeuvel, 1990. “Cohabitation: A Precursor to Marriage or an Alternative to Being Single?” Population and Development Review 16(4) (December): 702-726.
  • 13. William H. Jeynes, 2000. “The Effects of Several of the Most Common Family Structures on the Academic Achievement of Eighth Graders,” Marriage and Family Review 30(1/2): 73-97; Donna Ruane Morrison and Amy Ritualo, 2000. “Routes to Children’s Economic Recovery After Divorce: Are Cohabitation and Remarriage Equivalent?” American Sociological Review 65 (August): 560-580; Lingxin Hao, 1996. “Family Structure, Private Transfers, and the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children,” Social Forces 75: 269-292; Wendy D. Manning and Daniel T. Lichter, 1996. “Parental Cohabitation and Children’s Economic Well-Being,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58: 998-1010.
  • 14. Amy Mehraban Pienta, et al., 2000. “Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years,” Journal of Family Issues 21(5): 559-586.
  • 15. Susan L. Brown, 2000. “The Effect of Union Type on Psychological Well-Being: Depression Among Cohabitors versus Marrieds,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41 (September): 241-255; Allan V. Horwitz and Helene Raskin, 1998. “The Relationship of Cohabitation and Mental Health: A Study of a Young Adult Cohort,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60(2): 505ff; Steven Stack and J. Ross Eshleman, 1998. “Marital Status and Happiness: A 17-Nation Study,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60: 527-536; Arne Mastekaasa, 1994. “The Subjective Well-Being of the Previously Married: The Importance of Unmarried Cohabitation and Time Since Widowhood or Divorce,” Social Forces 73: 665-692.
  • 16. Lingxin Hao, 1996. “Family Structure, Private Transfers, and the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children,” Social Forces 75: 269-292; Kermit Daniel, 1995. “The Marriage Premium,” in Mariano Tommasi and Kathryn Ierullli (eds.) The New Economics of Human Behavior (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 113-25.
  • 17. Marin Clarkberg, 1999. “The Price of Partnering: The Role of Economic Well-Being in Young Adults’ First Union Experiences,” Social Forces 77(3): 945-968.
  • 18. S.M. Stanley, H.J. Markman, & S. Whitton, (under review). “Maybe I Do: Interpersonal Commitment Levels and Premarital or Non-Marital Cohabitation”; S.L. Brown and A. Booth, 1996. “Cohabitation versus Marriage: A Comparison of Relationship Quality,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58: 668-678; R. Forste and K. Tanfer, 1996. “Sexual Exclusivity among Dating, Cohabiting and Married Women,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58: 33-47; Steven Nock, 1995. “A Comparison of Marriages and Cohabiting Relationships,” Journal of Family Issues 16:
  • 18 53-76; L.L. Bumpass, et al., 1991. “The Role of Cohabitation in Declining Rates of Marriage,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53: 913-978; J.E. Straus and M.A. Stets, 1989. “The Marriage License as Hitting License: A Comparison of Assaults in Dating, Cohabiting and Married Couples,” Journal of Family Violence 4(2): 161-180.
  • 19. Michael Bracher et. al., 1993. “Marriage Dissolution in Australia: Models and Explanations,” Population Studies, vol. 47, pp. 403-425. Thomas G. O’Connor et al., 1999. “Frequency and Predictors of Relationship Dissolution in a Community Sample in England,” Journal of Family Psychology 13(3): 436-449; Susan L. Brown and Alan Booth, 1996. “Cohabitation Versus Marriage: A Comparison of Relationship Quality,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (August): 668-678
  • 20. S.M. Stanley, H.J. Markman, and S. Whitton, (under review). “Communication, Conflict, and Commitment: Insights on the Key Cs of Marriage from a National Survey”; S.W. Whitton, S.M. Stanley, and H.J. Markman, 2002 (in press). “Sacrifice in Romantic Relationships: An Exploration of Relevant Research and Theory,” in H.T. Reiss, M.A. Fitzpatrick, A.L. Vangelisti (eds.), Stability and Change in Relationship Behavior across the Lifespan. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • 21. E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, 2002. For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (New York: W.W. Norton): 240-47; Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky, 1999. “Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4) (November): 1034ff; Paul R. Amato, 1996. “Explaining the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58(3): 628-640; J.I. McLeod, 1991. “Childhood Parental Loss and Adult Depression,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 32: 205-220; N.D. Glenn and K.B. Kramer, 1987. “The Marriages and Divorces of the Children of Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 49: 811-825.
  • 22. Andrew J. Cherlin et al., 1995. “Parental Divorce in Childhood and Demographic Outcomes in Young Adulthood,” Demography 32: 299-318.
  • 23. Paul R. Amato and Danelle D. DeBoer, 2001. “The Transmission of Marital Instability Across Generations: Relationship Skills or Commitment to Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and the Family 63(4) (November): 1038ff.
  • 24. See, for example, Kingsley Davis (ed.), 1985. Contemporary Marriage: Comparative Perspectives on a Changing Institution (New York: Russell Sage Foundation). “Although the details of getting married — who chooses the mates, what are the ceremonies and exchanges, how old are the parties — vary from group to group, the principle of marriage is everywhere embodied in practice. . . .The unique trait of what is commonly called marriage is social recognition and approval. . .of a couple’s engaging in sexual intercourse and bearing and rearing offspring.” (p. 5); See also, Helen Fisher, 1992. Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray (New York: Fawcett Columbine): 65-66; George P. Murdock, 1949. Social Structure (New York: Macmillan). For a summary of the evidence, see Bill Muehlenberg, 2004. The Historicity and Universality of the Natural Family. Melbourne: Australian Family Association.
  • 25. See, for example, Pamela J. Smock, et al., 1999. “The Effect of Marriage and Divorce on Women’s Economic Well-Being,” American Sociological Review 64: 794-812; Ross Finie, 1993. “Women, Men and the Economic Consequences of Divorce: Evidence from Canadian Longitudinal Data,” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 30(2): 205ff. Teresa A. Mauldin, 1990. “Women Who Remain Above the Poverty Level in Divorce: Implications for Family Policy,” Family Relations 39(2): 141ff.
  • 26. Sara McLanahan, 2000. “Family, State, and Child Well-Being,” Annual Review of Sociology 26(1): 703ff; I. Sawhill, 1999. “Families at Risk,” in H. H. Aaron and R.D. Reischauer (eds.) Setting National Priorities (Washington, D.C.: Brookings): 97-135.
  • 27. Rebecca M. Blank, 1997. It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).
  • 28. For example, one recent study found that 81 percent of children living in nonmarried households will experience poverty during the course of their childhood, compared to 22 percent of children living with married parents. Fifty-two percent of children in nonmarried households will experience dire poverty (income 50 percent or less of the official poverty threshold) compared to just 10 percent of children in married households. Mark R. Rank and Thomas A. Hirschl, 1999. “The Economic Risk of Childhood in America: Estimating the Probability of Poverty Across the Formative Years,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4): 1058ff.
  • 29. Suzanne Bianchi, 1999. “The Gender Gap in the Economic Well Being of Nonresident Fathers and Custodial Mothers,” Demography 36: 195-203; Mary Naifeh, 1998. Trap Door? Revolving Door? Or Both? (U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports: Household Economic Studies) (July): 70ff.; Ross Finie, 1993. “Women, Men and the Economic Consequences of Divorce: Evidence from Canadian Longitudinal Data,” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 30(2): 205ff.
  • 30. Kate Funder, et. al., 1993. Settling Down - Pathways of Parents After Divorce. Melbourne, Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • 31. Seccombe, Mike, 1997. “Break-ups ‘the Main Cause of Poverty’,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September, p.6.
  • 32. Bob Birrell and Virginia Rapson, 1997. “More single parents equals more poverty,” News Weekly, 18 October, p. 8.
  • 33. Cited in Sasha Baskett, 2000. “Half of single parents on welfare,” The Herald Sun, 20 June, p. 8.
  • 34. Joseph Lupton and James P. Smith, 2002. “Marriage, Assets and Savings,” in Shoshana Grossbard-Schectman (ed.) Marriage and the Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); Janet Wilmoth, 1998. “The Timing of Marital Events Over the Life-Course and Pre-Retirement Wealth Outcomes,” (paper presented at meetings of the Population Association of America) (Chicago) (April); Lingxin Hao, 1996. “Family Structure, Private Transfers, and
  • 19
  • Twenty-One Reasons WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS
  • the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children,” Social Forces 75: 269-22.
  • 35. Lingxin Hao, 1996. “Family Structure, Private Transfers, and the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children,” Social Forces 75: 269-292.
  • 36. Liz Deegan, 1993. “For Richer, For Poorer.” The Sunday Telegraph, cited in Reader’s Digest, May.
  • 37. Jeffrey S. Gray and Michael J. Vanderhart, 2000. “The Determination of Wages: Does Marriage Matter?” in Linda J. Waite et al. (eds.) The Ties that Bind: Perspectives on Marriage and Cohabitation (New York: Aldine De Grutyer): 356-367; J. Gray, 1997. “The Fall in Men’s Return to Marriage,” Journal of Human Resources 32(3): 481-504; K. Daniel, 1995. “The Marriage Premium,” in M. Tomassi and K. Ierulli (eds.) The New Economics of Human Behavior (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 113-125; Robert F. Schoeni, 1995. “Marital Status and Earnings in Developed Countries,” Journal of Population Economics 8: 351-59; S. Korenman and D. Neumark, 1991. “Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?” Journal of Human Resources 26(2): 282-307.
  • 38. See, for example, C. Cornwell and P. Rupert, 1997. “Unobservable Individual Effects: Marriage and the Earnings of Young Men,” Economic Inquiry 35(2): 285-294; R. Nakosteen and M. Zimmer, 1997. “Men, Money and Marriage: Are High Earners More Prone than Low Earners to Marry?” Social Science Quarterly 78(1): 66-82.
  • 39. Donna K. Gunther and Madeline Zavodny, 2001. “Is the Male Marriage Premium Due to Selection? The Effect of Shotgun Weddings on the Return to Marriage,” Journal of Population Economics 14: 313-328.
  • 40. For a discussion of possible explanations for the male marriage premium, see Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, 2000. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better-Off Financially (New York: Doubleday): 97-109.
  • 41. Paul R. Amato, 2001. “Children of Divorce in the 1990s: An Update of the Amato and Keith (1991) Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Family Psychology 15(3): 355-370; William H. Jeynes, 2000. “The Effects of Several of the Most Common Family Structures on the Academic Achievement of Eighth Graders,” Marriage and Family Review 30(1/2): 73-97; Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky, 1999. “Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4) (November): 1034ff; Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, 1994. Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
  • 42. Timothy J. Biblarz and Greg Gottainer, 2000. “Family Structure and Children’s Success: A Comparison of Widowed and Divorced Single-Mother Families,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62(2) (May): 533.
  • 43. William H. Jeynes, 1999. “Effects of Remarriage Following Divorce on the Academic Achievement of Children,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 28(3): 385-393; Nicholas Zill et al., 1993. “Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment, and Achievement in Young Adulthood,” Journal of Family Psychology 7(1): 91-103.
  • 44. Sally Heath, 1996. “Nuptial Lure for Children of De Factos,” The Age, 30 November.
  • 45. Cited in Alison Rich, 2000. “Why Learning is a Hard Haul Without a Dad,” The Age, 15 June, p. 17.
  • 46. Caroline Milburn, 1994. “Families with Two Parents Best, Says Survey,” The Age, 18 November.
  • 47. Sotirios Sarantakos, 1996. “Children in Three Contexts,” Children Australia, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 23-31.
  • 48. Caroline Milburn, 2002. “Fathers Key to Success,” The Age, 5 October, p. 11.
  • 49. Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky, 1999. “Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4) (November): 1034ff; Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, 1997. A Generation At Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press); Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, 1994. Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).
  • 50. Zeng-Yin Cheng and Howard B. Kaplan, 1999. “Explaining the Impact of Family Structure During Adolescence on Adult Educational Attainment,” Applied Behavioral Science Review 7(1): 23ff; Jan O. Johnsson and Michael Gahler, 1997. “Family Dissolution, Family Reconstitution, and Children’s Educational Careers: Recent Evidence From Sweden,” Demography 34(2): 277-293; Dean Lillard and Jennifer Gerner, 1996. “Getting to the Ivy League,” Journal of Higher Education 70(6): 706ff.
  • 51. Ronald Angel and Jacqueline Worobey, 1988. “Single Motherhood and Children’s Health,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 29: 38-52.
  • 52. Jane Mauldon, 1990. “The Effects of Marital Disruption on Children’s Health,” Demography 27: 431-446.
  • 53. Olle Lundberg, 1993. “The Impact of Childhood Living Conditions on Illness and Mortality in Adulthood,” Social Science and Medicine 36: 1047-1052.
  • 54. J. E. Schwartz et al., 1995. “Childhood Sociodemographic and Psychosocial Factors as Predictors of Mortality Across the Life-Span,” American Journal of Public Health 85: 1237-1245.
  • 55. Joan S. Tucker et al., 1997. “Parental Divorce: Effects on Individual Behavior and Longevity,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73(2): 381-391.
  • 56. Relative odds range from 1.44 to 1.7. J.A. Gaudino, Jr., et al., 1999. “No Fathers’ Names: A Risk Factor for Infant Mortality in the State of Georgia,” Social Science and Medicine 48(2): 253-65; C.D. Siegel et al., 1996. “Mortality from Intentional and Unintentional Injury Among Infants of Young Mothers in Colorado, 1982 to 1992,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 150(10) (October): 1077-83; Trude Bennett and Paula Braveman, 1994. “Maternal Marital Status as a Risk Factor for Infant Mortality,” Family Planning Perspectives 26(6): 252-256.
  • 57. Trude Bennett, 1992. “Marital Status and Infant Health Outcomes,” Social Science and Medicine 35(9): 1179-1187.
  • 58. The reduced risks associated with marriage are not equally distributed, however. In general, marriage appears to confer the strongest benefits on children of mothers who are already advantaged: older, white, and better educated. Marital status does not appear to reduce the infant mortality rates of children born to teen mothers, or to college graduates. Trude Bennett and Paula Braveman, 1994. “Maternal Marital Status as a Risk Factor for Infant Mortality,” Family Planning Perspectives 26(6) (November/ December): 252ff.
  • 59. Trude Bennett, 1992. “Marital Status and Infant Health Outcomes,” Social Science and Medicine 35(9): 1179-1187.
  • 60. J. Schuman, 1998. “Childhood, Infant and Perinatal Mortality, 1996: Social and Biological Factors in Deaths of Children Aged under 3,” Population Trends 92: 5-14.
  • 61. Carol D. Siegel, et al., 1996. “Mortality from Intentional and Unintentional Injury Among Infants of Young Mothers in Colorado, 1986 to 1992,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 150 (October): 1077-1083.
  • 62. In Sweden: A. Armtzen et al., 1996. “Marital Status as a Risk Factor for Fetal and Infant Mortality,” Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine 24(1); 36-42; In England: J. Schuman, 1998. “Childhood, Infant and Perinatal Mortality, 1996. “Social and Biological Factors in Deaths of Children Aged Under 3,” Population Trends 92: 5-14; In Finland: E. Frossas et al., 1999. “Maternal Predictors of Perinatal Mortality: The Role of Birthweight,” International Journal of Epidemiology 28(3): 475-478.
  • 63. Jerald G. Bachman, et al., 1997. Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use in Young Adulthood (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates); Carol Miller-Tutzauer et al., 1991. “Marriage and Alcohol Use: A Longitudinal Study of Maturing Out,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 52: 434-440.
  • 64. I. Sutherland and J.P. Shepherd, 2001. “Social Dimensions of Adolescent Substance Use,” Addiction 96(3) (March): 445ff; W.J. Doherty and R.H. Needle, 1991. “Psychological Adjustment and Substance Abuse Among Adolescents Before and After Parental Divorce,” Child Development 62: 328-337; R.A. Turner et al., 1991. “Family Structure, Family Processes, and Experimenting with Substances During Adolescence,” Journal of Research on Adolescence 1: 93-106.
  • 65. Robert L. Flewelling and Karl E. Bauman, 1990. “Family Structure as a Predictor of Initial Substance Use and Sexual Intercourse in Early Adolescence,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 52: 171-181.
  • 66. Robert A. Johnson et al., 1996. The Relationship Between Family Structure and Adolescent Substance Use (Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, Office of Applied Studies, U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services).
  • 67. See, for example, John P. Hoffman, 1993. “Exploring the Direct and Indirect Family Effects on Adolescent Drug Use,” Journal of Drug Issues 23(3): 535ff.
  • 68. Cited in Bettina Arndt, 1997. “Social Conundrum: Is a Bad Marriage Better than a Good Divorce?,” The Age, 8 November.
  • 69. . Lee A. Lillard and Linda J. Waite, 1995. “’Til Death Do Us Part: Marital Disruption and Mortality,” American Journal of Sociology 100: 1131-56; Catherine E. Ross et al., 1990. “The Impact of the Family on Health: Decade in Review,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 52: 1059-1078.
  • 70. Yuanreng Hu and Noreen Goldman, 1990. “Mortality Differentials by Marital Status: An International Comparison,” Demography 27(2): 233-50.
  • 71. Mark Triffitt, 1993. “Warning: Bachelorhood May Be a Health Hazard.” Herald Sun, 24 September.
  • 72. Summarise in Moira Eastman, 1996. “Myths of Marriage and Family,” in David Popenoe, et. al. eds., Promises To Keep. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • 73. Cited in Cheryl Critchley, 1994. “Poor Hit by Health Gap,” The Herald Sun, 16 September, p. 4.
  • 74. Cited in Ben Mitchell, 1997. “Marriage Linked to Longer Life Spans,” The Age, 1 November.
  • 75. Paul R. Amato, 2000. “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62(4): 1269ff. Linda J. Waite and Mary Elizabeth Hughes, 1999. “At the Cusp of Old Age: Living Arrangements and Functional Status Among Black, White and Hispanic Adults,” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 54b (3): S136-S144.
  • 76. Men with health problems, for example, are more likely to remarry than are otherwise similar healthy men. However, men with healthy lifestyles are more likely to marry than are other men. Lee A. Lillard and Constantijn Panis, 1996. “Marital Status and Mortality: The Role of Health,” Demography 33: 313-27.
  • 77. Jerald G. Bachman et al., 1997. Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use in Young Adulthood (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates); Carol Miller-Tutzauer et al., 1991. “Marriage and Alcohol Use: A Longitudinal Study of Maturing Out,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 52: 434-40; James S. Goodwin, et al., 1987. “The Effect of Marital Status on Stage, Treatment, and Survival of Cancer Patients,” Journal of the American Medical Association 258: 3125-3130.
  • 78. Amy Mehraban Pienta et al., 2000. “Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years,” Journal of Family Issues 21(5): 559-586.
  • 79. Cheryl Critchley, 1994. “Poor Hit by Health Gap,” The Herald Sun, 16 September, p. 4.
  • 80. Cited in Tracy Sutherland, 1997. “Don’t Leave Your Better Half, For Good Health’s Sake,” The Australian, 31 October 1997.
  • 81. Steve Dow, 1994.“Couples Live Better, Longer: Study,” The Age, December 22.
  • 82. E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, 2002. For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (New York: W.W. Norton & Co.); Paul R. Amato, 2001. “Children of Divorce in the 1990s: An Update of the Amato and Keith (1991) Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Family Psychology 15(3): 355-370; Judith S. Wallerstein et al., 2000. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study (New York: Hyperion); Paul R. Amato, 2000. “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62(4): 1269ff; Ronald L. Simons, et al., 1999. “Explaining the Higher Incidence of Adjustment Problems Among Children of Divorce Compared with Those in Two-Parent Families,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4) (November): 1020ff.; Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, 1989. Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce (New York: Ticknor and Fields).
  • 83. Catherine E. Ross and John Mirowsky, 1999. “Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption, and Adult Depression,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4) (November): 1034ff; Andrew J. Cherlin et al., 1998. “Effects of Parental Divorce on Mental Health Throughout the Life Course,” American Sociological Review 63: 239-249; P.L Chase-Lansdale et al., 1995. “The Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on the Mental Health of Young Adults: A Developmental Perspective,” Child Development 66: 1614-1634.
  • 84. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, 2001. “Parental Predivorce Relations and Offspring Postdivorce Well-Being,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 63(1): 197ff.
  • 85. Gregory R. Johnson et al., 2000. “Suicide Among Adolescents and Young Adults: A Cross-National Comparison of 34 Countries,” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 30(1): 74-82; David Lester, 1994. “Domestic Integration and Suicide in 21 Nations, 1950-1985,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology XXXV (1-2): 131-137.
  • 86. Ronald C. Kessler et al., 1999. “Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Lifetime Suicide Attempts in the National Comorbidity Survey,” Archives of General Psychiatry 56: 617-626.
  • 87. Jack C. Smith, James A. Mercy, and Judith M. Conn, 1988. “Marital Status and the Risk of Suicide,” American Journal of Public Health 78: 78-80.
  • 88. David M. Cutler et al., 2000. “Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide,” Working Paper 7713 (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research) (May).
  • 89. I.H., Burnley, 1995. “Socioeconomic and Spatial Differentials in Mortality and Means of Committing Suicide in New South Wales, Australia, 1985-91,” Social Science and Medicine 41, pp.687-698.
  • 90. Cited in Sally Heath, 1996. “Marital Joy Linked to Good Health,” The Age, 30 November.
  • 91. Anon., 1994. “Divorced Males Top Suicide List,” Adelaide Advertiser, 12 October, p. 13.
  • 92. Ibid.
  • 93. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000. Suicides, Australia, 1921-1998. March.
  • 94. Cited in Bettina Arndt, 1999. “Silent Witness to Male Suicide,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December.
  • 95. Darren, Gray, 2001.“Divorced Men Head Suicide List,” The Age, 19 April, p. 6.
  • 96. Susan L. Brown, 2000. “The Effect of Union Type on Psychological Well-Being: Depression Among Cohabitors versus Marrieds,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41 (September): 241-255.
  • 97. Ronald C. Kessler and Marilyn Essex, 1982. “Marital Status and Depression: The Importance of Coping Resources,” Social Forces 61: 484-507.
  • 98. Marriage did not, however, appear to protect school-age teen mothers or black 18- and 19-year old mothers from depression. Lisa Deal and Victoria Holt, 1998. “Young Maternal Age and Depressive Symptoms: Results from the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey,” American Journal of Public Health 88(2): 266ff.
  • 99. Nadine F. Marks and James David Lambert, 1998. “Marital Status Continuity and Change Among Young and Midlife Adults: Longitudinal Effects on Psychological Well-Being,” Journal of Family Issues 19652-86; Allan V. Horwitz et al., 1996. “Becoming Married and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Young Adults,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58: 895-907; Allan V. Horwitz and Helene Raskin White, 1991. “Becoming Married, Depression, and Alcohol Problems Among Young Adults,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 32:221-37.
  • 100. See, for example, Tiffany Field, 1992. “Infants of Depressed Mothers,” Journal of Development and Psychopathology 4: 49ff; A.D. Cox et al., 1987. “The Impact of Maternal Depression in Young Children,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 28(6): 917ff; Mayer Ghodsian et al. 1984. “A Longitudinal Study of Maternal Depression and Child Behavior Problems,” Child Psychology and Psychiatry 25(1); Cheryl Tatano Beck, 1995. “The Effects of Postpartum Depression on Maternal-Infant Interaction: A Meta-Analysis,” Nursing Research 44(5): 298ff.
  • 101. Sherryl H. Goodman et al., 1993. “Social and Emotional Competence in Children of Depressed Mothers,” Child Development 64: 516-531.
  • 102. Moira Eastman, 1996. “Myths of Marriage and Family,” in David Popenoe, et. al. eds., Promises To Keep. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • 103. Cheryl Critchley, “Poor Hit by Health Gap,” The Herald Sun, 16 September 1994, p. 4.
  • 104. Leela de Krester, 2002. “Happily Married,” The Herald Sun, 10 July, p. 15.
  • 105. Cynthia Harper and Sara McLanahan, 1998. “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association) (San Francisco) (August).
  • 106. Chris Coughlin and Samuel Vuchinich, 1996. “Family Experience in Preadolescence and the Development of Male Delinquency,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58(2): 491ff; R. J. Sampson and J.H. Laub, 1994. “Urban Poverty and the Family Context of Delinquency: A New Look at Structure and Process in a Classic Study,” Child Development 65: 523-540; Robert J. Sampson, 1987. “Urban Black Violence: The Effect of Male Joblessness and Family Disruption,” American Journal of Sociology 93: 348-82.
  • 107. Ross L. Matsueda and Karen Heimer, 1987. “Race, Family Structure and Delinquency: A Test of Differential Association and Social Control Theories,” American Sociological Review 52: 171-181.
  • 108. See, for example, George Thomas and Michael P. Farrell, 1996. “The Effects of Single-Mother Families and Nonresident Fathers on Delinquency and Substance Abuse,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58(4): 884ff.
  • 109. Alan Tapper,1993. “Welfare and Juvenile Crime” in Mike Nahan and Tony Rutherford, eds., Reform and Recovery. Institute of Public Affairs.
  • 110. Sotirios Sarantakos, 1997. “Cohabitation, Marriage and Delinquency: The Significance of Family Environment,” The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 30, pp. 187-199.
  • 111. John Smith, 1994. “The Importance of Two-Parent Families,” a talk given to the Australian Family Association national conference in Melbourne, July 7.
  • 112. Michael Reid, 2000. Kids in Trouble. Christchurch: New Zealand Education Development Foundation.
  • 113. Ronet Bachman, 1994. “Violence Against Women,” A National Crime Victimization Survey Report NCK-145325 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics) (January): See Table 2 and 3.
  • 114. John H. Laub et al., 1998. “Trajectories of Change in Criminal Offending: Good Marriages and the Desistance Process,” American Sociological Review 63: 225-238.
  • 115. Bryan Rodgers, 1995. “Social and Psychological Wellbeing of Children from Divorced Families: Australian Research Findings,” Australian Psychologist, vol. 31, no. 3, November, pp. 174-182.
  • 116. Margo I. Wilson and Martin Daly, 1992. “Who Kills Whom in Spouse Killings? On the Exceptional Sex Ratio of Spousal Homicides in the United States,” Criminology 30(2): 189-215; J.E. Straus and M.A. Stets, 1989. “The Marriage License as Hitting License: A Comparison of Assaults in Dating, Cohabiting and Married Couples,” Journal of Family Violence 4(2): 161-180.
  • 117. Linda J. Waite’s tabulations from the 1987-1988 waves of the National Survey of Families and Households. See Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, 2000. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better-Off Financially (New York: Doubleday): 155-156.
  • 118. Nicky Ali Jackson, 1996. “Observational Experiences of Intrapersonal Conflict and Teenage Victimization: A Comparative Study among Spouses and Cohabitors,” Journal of Family Violence 11: 191-203.
  • 119. Catherine Kenney and Sara McLanahan, 2001. Are Cohabiting Relationships More Violent than Marriage? (Princeton, NJ: Center for Research on Child-Well Being): Paper #01-22. Available at: http://crcw.princeton.edu/ CRCW/papers/papers.htm.
  • 120. Jan E. Stets, 1991. “Cohabiting and Marital Aggression: The Role of Social Isolation,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53: 669-680.
  • 121. Lawrence Sherman et al., 1992. Policing Domestic Violence: Experiments and Dilemmas (New York: The Free Press): Chapter 7, cited in Richard J. Gelles, 1997, Intimate Violence in Families, 3d. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage): 138.
  • 122. C.D. Siegel et al., 1996. “Mortality from Intentional and Unintentional Injury Among Infants of Young Mothers in Colorado, 1982 to 1992,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 150(10) (October): 1077-1083.
  • 123. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, 1996. “Evolutionary Psychology and Marital Conflict: The Relevance of Stepchildren,” in Sex, Power, Conflict: Evolutionary and Feminist Perspectives, eds. David M. Buss and Neil M. Malamuth (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 9-28.
  • 124. Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, 1985. “Child Abuse and Other Risks of Not Living with Both Parents,” Ethology and Sociobiology 6: 197-210.
  • 125. Leslie Margolin, 1992. “Child Abuse by Mothers’ Boyfriends: Why the Overrepresentation?” Child Abuse & Neglect 16: 541-551.
  • 126. Cited in Michael Pirrie, 1993. “Child Abuse Law Alert.” Herald-Sun, 28 August.
  • 127. Graham Angus and Greg Hall, 1995. “Child Abuse and Neglect Australia 1994-95,” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
  • 128. Sian Powell, 1999. “Cohabiting with the Children’s Enemy,” The Australian, 24 February, p. 1.
  • 129. Darren Gray, 2000. “Lone Parent Abuse Trap,” The Age, 18 May, p. 7.
  • 130. Vanessa Walker, 2001. “Single Mothers’ Children Most at Risk,” The Australian, 10 May, p. 3.
  • 131. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2004. Child Protection Australia 2002-03. Canberra, p. 22.
  • 132. See for example, S.M. Stanley, et al., 2001. “Community Based Premarital Prevention: Clergy and Lay Leaders on the Front Lines,” Family Relations 50: 67-76; W. J. Doherty, 2000. “Family Science and Family Citizenship: Toward a Model of Community Partnership with Families,” Family Relations, 49: 319-325; John M. Gottman and Clifford I. Notarius, 2000. “Decade Review: Observing Marital Interaction,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62: 927-947; K. Hahlweg, et al., 1998. “Prevention of Marital Distress: Results of a German Prospective Longitudinal Study,” Journal of Family Psychology 12: 543-556; J. Gottman, 1994. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail (New York: Simon & Schuster).

© 2004 National Marriage Coalition. PO Box 826, Wollongong NSW 2520. with thanks to David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American Values, New York, USA for permission to reproduce research material and to Bill Muehlenberg for Australian research documentation for the Australian edition.

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