In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introducing the Issue
  • Sara McLanahan (bio), Elisabeth Donahue (bio), and Ron Haskins (bio)
Sara McLanahan

Sara McLanahan is editor-in-chief of The Future of Children and director of the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University.

Elisabeth Donahue

Elisabeth Donahue is associate editor of The Future of Children and a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton.

Ron Haskins

Ron Haskins is a senior editor of The Future of Children and a senior fellow in the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution.


1. The Bush administration proposal on building healthy marriages would create two programs. One would provide $100 million a year in grants to states to design and implement marriage-promotion activities. The second, also of $100 million a year, would be retained by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to fund research on healthy marriage and demonstration programs. In the former program, states must match the federal grant on a dollar-for-dollar basis, thus bringing total funding for the state program to $200 million a year if states match all the federal dollars. The funding for both programs together would be $300 million a year for five years, or $1.5 billion. Both the House and Senate bills would terminate an existing program that provides $100 million a year in bonuses to states for reducing rates of nonmarital births, thereby offsetting part of the cost of the marriage initiative. See Mary Parke, Marriage-Related Provisions in Welfare Reauthorization Proposals: A Summary (Washington: Center for Law and Social Policy, March 1, 2004).

2. Kate Zernike, "Groups Vow Not to Let Losses Dash Gay Rights," New York Times, November 14, 2004.

3. Theodora Ooms, Stacey Bouchet, and Mary Parke, "Beyond Marriage Licenses: Efforts in States to Strengthen Marriage and Two-Parent Families" (Washington: Center for Law and Social Policy, 2004); Steven L. Nock and others, "Covenant Marriage Turns Five Years Old," Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 10, no. 1 (2003).

4. Gregory Acs and Elaine Maag, "Irreconcilable Differences? The Conflict between Marriage Promotion Initiatives for Cohabiting Couples with Children and Marriage Penalties in Tax and Transfer Programs," New Federalism: National Survey of American Families (Washington: Urban Institute, April 26, 2005); Adam Carasso and C. Eugene Steuerle, "Saying ‘I Do’ after the 2001 Tax Cuts," Tax Policy Issues and Options (Washington: Urban Institute, August 27, 2002).

5. Sara McLanahan and Lynne Casper, "Growing Diversity and Inequality in the American Family," in State of the Union: America in the 1990s, vol. 2, Social Trends, edited by Reynolds Farley (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1995), pp. 1-45.

6. U.S. Census Bureau, "America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2003," Current Population Reports (November 2004), p. 8. Although the vast majority of single parents are women, the number of single fathers is also rising rapidly in the United States. From 1970 to 2003, single-father families grew from 1 percent to 6 percent of all families with children. Ibid. Although the incidence of poverty in single-father families is about half that of those headed by single mothers, children living with single fathers are a little more than two times as poor as those living with married parents. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2003, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, table C3.

7. Larry L. Bumpass and Hsien-Hen Lu, "Trends in Cohabitation and Implications for Children’s Family Contexts in the United States," Population Studies 54 (2000): 29-41.

8. Walter I. Trattner, From Poor Law to Welfare State: A History of Social Welfare in America, 6th ed. (New York: Free Press, 1999).

9. Diana M. Pearce, "The Feminization of Poverty: Women, Work and Welfare," Urban and Social Change Review 11, nos. 1-2 (February 1978): 28-36.

10. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2003, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, table C3. [End Page 11]

11. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Harvard University Press, 1994).

12. Linda Waite, "Does Marriage Matter?" Demography 32, no. 4 (1995): 483-507.

13. George Akerlof, "Men without Children," Economic Journal 108 (1998): 287-309.

14. See...


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