Richer states have more marriages. Georgia….not so much.

Is Georgia a poorer state because there aren’t enough people married or is it the other way around? Or does marriage have nothing at all to do with the wealth of a state?

There’s a long history of argument among economists and social commenters about the idea that economics tends to shape society. And there is a school of thought — led by Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson, but subsequently followed up by other researchers — that the decline of manufacturing and the drop in incomes made many blue-collar and urban men less desirable as husbands.

But a recently issued report from several think tanks argues that the flow tends to run the other way.

States where marriage is strongest are the richest states, says the study. States with the largest retreat from traditional marriage are the weakest.

The study shows Georgia to be one of the weakest states on traditional marriage and also to be burdened with much higher than average poverty — especially among children.


Marriage 1

Which is cause? Which is effect?

Marriage makes for better economics, argue the three authors who wrote and released the report under the auspices of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies.

Among people 25 to 59, that is, “prime age adults,” 46 percent of Georgians are married. That is the sixth-lowest percentage among the states. The national average is 53 percent, according to the report.

Narly one-quarter of Georgia’s children live in poverty.

They note that traditional marriage has been declining across the country, but some states have been moving away from it much faster than others. The change in the percentage of parents without children who are married has fallen by about 24 percent in Georgia in – the fourth-largest drop among the states.

One measure of wealth is to divide the economy – gross domestic product – by each resident. Georgia ranks 35th among the states in GDP per capita.

Of the state’s children, 63 percent live in households with married parents, the report says.

The report’s authors chide their side of the ideological spectrum for putting too much emphasis on the markets and not enough on marriage.

“Conservatives’ focus on free markets and limited government, as valuable as they are, tends to obscure other social and cultural factors conducive to prosperity,” they write. “In particular, left largely unexamined in the work of conservative economists such as Milton Friedman and Gregory Mankiw is how the emergence of a dynamic free enterprise system might depend on strong families and a vibrant civil society.”

But look at how the economic and social data match up, they argue.

“All this suggests that, at the macro level, states that have strong and stable families are more likely to show high levels of growth, economic mobility, and median family income, and low levels of child poverty.”

“A substantial body of research concludes that the retreat from marriage is one factor behind increases in child poverty in the United States since the late 1960s, and new research on economic mobility indicates that poor children in regions with more two-parent families achieve more upward mobility than poor kids in regions with large numbers of single-parent families.”


Reader Comments 0


All over the world there is a rise of  large cities like Atlanta and Chicago.  This is not specific to Georgia or to Illinois.  Or even the US.  Companies locate where the entrepreneurs live and where there is the needed infrastructure and resources to grow. As much as I wish small towns and cities would grow and prosper I don't see any evidence of that actually happening.  


People with little or no disposable income don't spend money and businesses can't thrive.  Large swaths of people without disposable income really can't afford children and have a lower desire to start families and get married.  /fin

Quote all the studies ya like, it's not rocket science.


"Narly one-quarter of Georgia’s children live in poverty."

You are fired!


In order for Georgia economy to grow, business interest and investment has to increase throughout the state. The focus can't just be the Atlanta metro while the rest of Georgia suffers. That' s one of the reasons why Texas, Florida and North Carolina are more successful is because they lure various industries to their state and the don't focus on one city. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin are pretty wealthy cities. In North Carolina, you have more options other than Charlotte. In those states, the economy is diverse and people don't have to live in one major metropolitan area in order to have opportunities. I am a Georgia native, but when I visited Texas last year I was very impressed. More people will get married when they have decent paying jobs bottomline!


@TheRealAnfield A large focus on metro Atlanta is because it has more than 50% of the population of the state. None of the other cities you mention come even close to that sort of dominance of their states. 


That's my whole point. You have to lure companies to other cities as well so Georgia can be healthy economically as a whole. Illinois is in a similar situation where everything in the state involves around Chicago. When Chicago suffers, the whole state suffers. You have to have a balance of power.