There is a vast social science literature published over the last few decades showing that being married is a very important poverty reducing/protecting life factor, primarily for women and children. Remarkably, even stronger than educational status itself.
Here is an article that ChristianityToday.com published this week, explaining this topic.
Some key pull-quotes…
Just 60 years ago, those who had stable employment were seldom poor. Forty years ago, education became the gulf which separated the haves from the have-nots. For the past 20 years or more, though, the unexpected factor in whether our neighbors and their children rise from poverty is marital status. Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute, explains: “The proliferation of single-parent households accounts for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since the early 1970s.”
Marriage is not just a personal, sentimental institution, giving couples something to feel good about at each year’s anniversary. The scholars at the National Marriage Project working from the University of Virginia offer dramatic evidence in their recent report (page 78) that marriage is a “wealth-generating institution.”
The evidence is impossible to ignore or explain away. Marriage drives well-being and upward mobility. The absence of marriage drives it down. Any smart poverty alleviation program cannot ignore this.
Similar research is presented in my most recent book, The Ring Makes All the Difference.