Marriage Breakdown Costs NH Taxpayers at least $99 Million a Year

April 13, 2008

First-Time Research Reveals Staggering Annual Taxpayer Costs for Divorce and Unwed Childbearing

For Immediate Release
April 13, 2008
Contact: Karen Testerman
Phone: (603) 228-4794
Email: cornerstone@nhcornerstone.org

CONCORD, NH – Cornerstone Policy Research today joined other national policy and research groups across the nation to release a first-time ever research report that quantifies the annual taxpayer cost from high rates of divorce and unmarried childbearing. It identifies national, state and local costs which account for more than $1 trillion in the last decade. This landmark scholarly study entitled “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All 50 States,” will also be released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. by the four sponsoring policy and research groups – Institute for American Values, Georgia Family Council, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Families Northwest.

A large percentage of female-headed households are living in poverty—49.3 percent of the 71,000 total households live in poverty in New Hampshire, for example. If those femaleheaded households were to become married, then 60 percent of them would be lifted out of poverty, as research indicates is the cautious assumption. This means that total poverty in New Hampshire would be reduced by 29.6 percent. This could lead to an annual savings for New Hampshire of $99,000,000.

“These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family Strengthening and Defending NH Families fragmentation,” said principal investigator Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., economics professor at Georgia College & State University.

“Prior research shows that marriage lifts single mothers out of poverty and therefore reduces the need for costly social benefits,” said Scafidi. “This new report shows that public concern about the decline of marriage need not be based only on ‘moral’ concerns, but that reducing high taxpayer costs of family fragmentation is a legitimate concern of government, policy makers and legislators, as well as community reformers and faith communities.”

“This report provides the evidence that marriage is about more than a private relationship where two people love each other,” said Cornerstone Policy Research Executive Director, Karen Testerman. “Marriage also serves a public purpose that has a real economic impact when the state must provide the additional services to address the fallout caused by the fracturing of the
institution of marriage.”

“Fractured families affect real people who are suffering. We will never completely eradicate divorce and unwed childbearing. We as a state have a legitimate public concern and responsibility to formulate and encourage public policies that will increase the number of married households and intact families. We can do more to encourage marriages to succeed and help families to stay together. Our children and the families of NH are worth the fight,” Testerman concluded.

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Cornerstone Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of strong families, limited government and free markets.

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