LONDON, February 12, 2002 ( – A report issued yesterday by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) in the UK uses government and charity statistics to present evidence on the cost to society of undermining marriage. After presenting her evidence, Jill Kirby, author of “BROKEN HEARTS Family decline and the consequences for society” challenges legislators saying, “Unless we are prepared to recognise that the family is under siege and that marriage is under threat, we can have no hope of reversing the trend and improving the lives of the children who are afflicted.”

The study found that while over 50% of cohabiting couples break up within five years of having a child, only 8 per cent of married couples split after a child. The research revealed that children from single parent families are more than twice as likely as those from two parent families to experience mental disorder. Children of both lone and cohabiting parents are more likely to suffer physical abuse than the children of married couples; to turn to drugs; to commit crime; and to run away from home.

CPS charges that “recent moves to reduce the distinction between marriage and cohabitation ignore the evidence. Government efforts to tackle child poverty are dealing only with symptoms, not causes. Where the state intervenes to replace family support, it provides greater incentives not to marry.”

Most European economies have fiscal instruments of support for marriage, through joint taxation. In Britain, as in Canada, family commitments have become largely irrelevant to tax assessment, whereas in most of Europe adults with families to support are paying tax at much lower rates than single earners. CPS urges “For the sake of the children and to repair the damage to society, it is time for the state to signal its approbation and support for the structure most successful in maintaining social stability: the married family.”

Kirby concludes: “The nurture of children should be a primary objective of every civilised society. The perverse consequence of our fiscal, social and welfare policies has been to incentivise and institutionalise child neglect. It is time for a new approach.”

See the CPS release on the study: