Family breakdown: The economic and cultural impacts

Dr. Peter Frank, the Free Enterprise Fellow for the Jesse Helms Center and an economics professor at Wingate University, has authored a new report on the consequences of family breakdown in the United States (PDF download here):

Researchers from multiple disciplines have investigated the impact of family breakdown on society. The effects on children have garnered attention as research examines the psychological impact of one versus two parent families, the incidence of teenage pregnancy, juvenile crime rates, a drop off in educational attainment, and declining birthrates in advanced industrial countries.

Additional research indicates family breakdown has economic consequences in terms of increased poverty which often manifests in significantly lower income for female single-headed households. While both the definition of marriage and family and the economic impact of family breakdown remain fundamental policy issues, two principal questions require further consideration:

1. What constitutes marriage and family, and does it matter how this institutional arrangement is defined for society as a whole?

2. To what extent has government policy contributed to family breakdown, and what is the economic cost of this breakdown?