Marriage is considered a critical tool for fighting poverty, but it can also be a sensitive topic that provokes intense debate. In the past, Spotlight has featured exclusive commentaries examining the importance of marriage in tying families together and producing better outcomes for children, as well as providing legal and tax benefits. However, a landmark report released last week by the Half in Ten campaign asserts that it isn’t necessarily marriage that makes the difference – it's dual incomes.
The report, Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth, suggests that recognizing and encouraging dual incomes in whatever form they exist significantly improves a family’s poverty status. It calls for increasing the number of household earners and good jobs for single breadwinners rather than focusing solely on encouraging marriage to gain economic stability. In fact, the report finds that poverty rates for households headed by a single mother drop from 40.7 percent to 14 percent when the mother has full-time, year-round employment.
The report also points to the need for flexible workplaces and work supports such as child care to help move families out of poverty.
The marriage findings are part of a larger report that lays out strategies for expanding the middle class and promoting opportunity, starting the clock on the campaign’s goal of cutting poverty in half in ten years. Restoring Shared Prosperity was released at an event last week that included a keynote address from U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and a panel moderated by author Barbara Ehrenreich.
Noting the growing national focus on poverty and income inequality as exemplified by the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations, Ehrenreich said that the conversation is changing and progress is increasingly possible. “We saw for so long that poverty has been isolated as a problem of someone else,” Ehrenreich said. “We can’t do that anymore at this moment.”
Along with the report, Half in Ten has compiled the following regularly updated resources for advocates, press and policymakers:
- Interactive website to access the report’s data
- Top 10 findings from Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth
- State by state fact sheets
Posted by Tamanna
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