The Marriage Plot

commentary

(Bloomberg Quint)

A woman picks up free groceries at La Colaborativa, a nonprofit organization providing food and housing assistance in Chelsea, Massachusetts, June 2, 2021, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

A woman picks up free groceries at La Colaborativa, a nonprofit organization providing food and housing assistance in Chelsea, Massachusetts, June 2, 2021

Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

by Kathryn A. Edwards

April 4, 2022

For more than a quarter century, the U.S. government has been sending an unmistakable message to poor, single mothers: Get married. If America genuinely wants to address poverty and achieve gender equality, this has to change.

Readers can be forgiven for missing last year's 25th anniversary of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which proclaimed that “marriage is the foundation of a successful society” and fulfilled then-President Bill Clinton's earlier campaign promise to “end welfare as we know it.” There wasn't much to celebrate. A full generation later, the share of children in single-parent homes has increased, child poverty is mostly unchanged, and employment among unmarried (and married) mothers has plateaued.…

The remainder of this commentary is available at bloombergquint.com.


Kathryn Anne Edwards is an economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

This commentary originally appeared on Bloomberg Quint on April 4, 2022. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.