Should Washington Pay Parents to Raise Future Taxpayers?

September 26, 2013

A claim often repeated by politicians from both sides of the aisle is that they are "pro-family," but few have put forward any legislation devoted to addressing the problems faced by American families. One of these problems is the "marriage divide," which has recently seen efforts aimed at resolving this issue by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), says W. Bradford Wilcox, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

  • Education and affluence are directly correlated to marriage continuance.
  • Non-marital childbearing has remained rare for college-educated women.
  • For women without college degrees, the rate has increased over the last decade.
  • Less than 10 percent of births to college-educated women are outside of wedlock, compared to nearly 50 percent for women lacking college degrees.

Education is also tied to overall family stability, continuing the trend of education being a primary predictor of positive outcomes. Furthermore, stability itself seems to be perpetuating, as children raised in stable, two-parent households  are more likely to attain success in professional and educational pursuits thus continuing the trend for their children.

  • Family stability is directly tied to family earning.
  • Less educated men face lower wages and less opportunity for employment.
  • This helps explain why nonmarital childbearing and divorce are prevalent among less-educated parts of the population.

Sen. Lee is proposing a $2,500 child tax credit applicable to both income and payroll taxes, which would be helpful to lower-class Americans who primarily pay payroll taxes. This tax credit should reduce financial problems for lower-class workers, thus increasing family stability and lowering nonmarital childbirth rates. However, it stands to reason that these gains can also be realized by simply lowering tax rates across the board rather than offering a tax credit.

Source: W. Bradford Wilcox, "Should Washington Pay Parents to Raise Future Taxpayers?" The Atlantic, September 17, 2013.

 

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