Maggie Gallagher

In 1979, 49 percent of families with minor children headed by single women were poor. How has that changed over the last 20 years? Answer: not at all. In 1996, 49 percent of families with minor children headed by single moms were still poor. The risk of poverty follows single moms long after the baby is out of diapers and needs no child care. One study that looked at families with teen-agers found that African-American children were twice as likely and white children three times as likely to be poor if they lived with a single parent. Single mothers with a high school diploma were almost five times more likely to be poor than married couples who were high school graduates.

When it comes to avoiding deep and persistent poverty, wedded parents are even more key. In one study children whose parents never married were 40 times more likely to be poor for all or most of their childhood than children whose parents stayed married.

Maybe this will come as no surprise to you and me, but in the face of such bland, respectable disinformation in high places, it's worth repeating: One key cause of child poverty in this country is parents who do not get and stay married.

Disinformation is not compassion: Covering up the real forces sweeping children into poverty will only keep us from finding ways to get them out.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.