NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 16, 2008

Divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers more than $112 billion a year, according to a study  conducted by Georgia State University economist Ben Scafidi. 

  • The calculations were based on the assumption that households headed by a single female have relatively high poverty rates, leading to higher spending on welfare, health care, criminal justice and education for those raised in the disadvantaged homes.
  • The $112 billion estimate includes the cost of federal, state and local government programs, and lost tax revenue at all levels of government.
  • Reducing these costs is a legitimate concern of government, policymakers and legislators, says Scafidi.

While the study doesn't offer formal recommendations, it does suggest that state and federal lawmakers consider investing more money in programs intended to bolster marriages:

  • Such a program has been in place in Oklahoma since 2001
  • Texas last year earmarked about $15 million in federal funds for marriage education.

Because of the very large taxpayer costs associated with high rates of divorce and unwed childbearing, and the modest price tags associated with most marriage-strengthening initiatives, programs even with very modest success rates will be cost-effective, say the researchers.

Source: "Divorce, Unwed Parenting Cost Taxpayers Billions," Associated Press, April 15, 2008.

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