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Marriage is a fundamental social institution As an institution marriage is the foundation of a harmonious and enriching family life and the basic building block of our society As the cornerstone of the family marriage produces children provides children with mothers and fathers and produces many social economic and health benefits for children adults and society generally By most measures marriage helps keep children out of poverty But should governments be involved in promoting marriage If government-funded initiatives could promote healthy marriages child poverty would almost certainly decline But its not clear that the proposed programs will prompt more couples to marry and if they do whether the resulting marriages will be stable On one side is the marriage movement a loose group of conservatives religious leaders and social scientists who want to strengthen the institution of marriage Some of them advocate marriage because they are morally certain that it provides the best kind of family Others including most of the social scientists in this camp favor it because they believe childrens well-being would improve if more of their parents were married Now were looking at marriage in a new way as a public health education issue says Diane Sollee the director of the Coalition for Marriage Family and Couples Education in Washington Its inarguable that decades of rising divorce rates and the increase in children born to unwed mothers have had a profound effect on family formation in the US Between 1960 and 1995 the percentage of children living with only one parent rose from around 12 percent to 27 percent This in turn has had a major impact on government antipoverty programs Today more than 75 percent of all federal aid to kids provided through such programs as food stamps Medicaid public housing and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families goes to single-parent families Grier and Jonsson According to Dr Horn the point would not be to advertise marriage per se or convince singles
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