Are America’s “Marriage Penalties” Keeping Poverty – and Single Parenthood – Up?
Last updated: August 15, 2012 by Susan
Now that there are more single mothers than married mothers for women under 301, it is easy to see how the government wants to provide as much support as possible for single parents to raise their children with a bare minimum.
But is it even worth it for single women to marry or to get a decent-paying job in the first place?
It is worth noting that 27.3% of single parent families are in the poverty level, but it is also worth noting that these poor single parent families also receive substantial aid from the government specifically because they are poor.
The problem here is that once they find some way to float just above the poverty level – like getting a modest-paying job or getting married to someone who can raise the total household income – they find themselves no longer eligible for the benefits they used to receive.
This is at least according to Rick Matthews.
The Voices of US co-founder points out that “America as a nation has much to gain be considering ending her ‘marriage penalties’ relating to tax treatment from marriage and eligibility requirement to receive assistance by married couples.”
One of the most prominent examples of this discrepancy is the marriage penalty. Food stamps, housing assistance, day care assistance, Medicaid and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – all of these welfare programs will provide substantially less assistance to two-parent families than single-parent families.
This puts poor families (especially single parent households) in a bind: do they keep earning little so that they qualify for government aid, or do they earn more money but find themselves cut off from the government?
This is not an easy question to answer, especially for the growing number of single mothers that scrape by somewhere around the poverty level. It would be nice to extend welfare, but just where will we get the money to support families (single parent or otherwise) to climb out of poverty without getting cut off from government aid?
Hint: it involves closing tax loopholes and cutting tax breaks for the wealthier members of society.
- NY Times – For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage [↩]