New Research Confirms Having Married Parents Helps Kids Get Ahead

Isabel Sawhill

The impact of family structure, particularly marriage, on children's well-being has always been a somewhat controversial topic, but that doesn't make it any less salient. The share of adults who are married has declined from about two-thirds in 1970 to one half in 2023.1 The share of births to unmarried women has increased from about 11% in 1970 to 40% in 2022.2 Some predict that approximately one-third of Gen Z will never marry. Marriage rates are particularly low for those without a college degree.3

Some researchers4 have made the case that marriage doesn't matter much, while others have argued that marriage does matter. This raises the question--who is right? How much difference does marriage make in determining children's later-in life success?

The short answer is that marriage still matters. And depending on what metric you examine, marriage can matter a lot.

The basic reason is simple: two is better than one. Children raised by married parents do better than children raised by single parents because married parents tend to have more time, money, and emotional bandwidth to invest in raising their children. Research indicates that growing up in fatherless households negatively affects boys, in particular.5

Full Text

More Headlines…