WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2013, ( – A married couple's decision to stay together is more influential in lowering the number of teenage out-of-wedlock births, unemployed dads, and Americans on the welfare dole than any other factor, according to a new study.

The Family Research Council released two in-depth studies yesterday measuring “family intactness” and its impact on society.

Compared to other variables like education, income, and ethnicity, a family's decision to stay together had a greater positive impact on social outcomes.

The 50-page report U.S. Social Policy: Dependence on the Family found family cohesion the main factor in determining whether a child would graduate from high school, whether families would end up on programs such as food stamps or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and whether young men would be employed.

Living in a family with both parents had a greater impact on teenage out-of-wedlock birthrates than education, including sex education, the study found.

A one-percent increase in family intactness has a greater beneficial impact on the 18 outcomes studies than having a college education, according to Dr. Henry Potrykus, a senior fellow at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) and a co-author of the report. “Family intactness always has a beneficial impact on outcomes.”

The study found the more children a man aged 25-54 had, the more likely he was to be employed. Men with larger families also made more money.

“The state has hitherto ignored the importance of the intact married family in shaping the outcomes of its social policies,” the study concludes. “This neglect of marriage is an error of historical proportions.”

The companion study described the state of married, divorced, and cohabiting America in geographic terms.

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The Index of Family Belonging and Rejection found that only 45 percent of Americans between the ages of 15 and 17 are being raised by their married, biological parents. The rate is as low as 15 percent in Cleveland and in the teens in four other major cities (Baltimore, Memphis, Detroit, and the District of Columbia).

The state with the largest level of family cohesion is Utah. The lowest level was found among states in the South, led by Mississippi.

Rural areas had lower areas of family stability than suburban areas. “These areas are predominantly white areas, so ethnic composition does not account for this,” Dr. Nicholas Zill, one of the authors of the report, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Family cohesion varied by ethnic group, as well. Asians were the most likely group to remain married (65 percent), followed by whites (45 percent) Hispanics (40), mixed race families (37 percent), American Indians (more than 25 percent), and African Americans (17 percent).

“Government policies that do not take into consideration the importance of marriage and family ignore human nature,”said Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, who was on hand for the press conference Tuesday. “We cannot help our fellow man if we do not take into account its true nature.”

Translating these raw numbers into a positive program may prove the most difficult piece of the puzzle yet, the researchers admitted.

“The biggest challenge facing the nation is solving the problem of how broken families (where mother and father no longer raise their children together) can raise children who will have intact marriages. If we do not learn how to solve this problem, the U.S. will continue to decline,” Dr. Patrick Fagan said.