Breakdown of the family costing taxpayers billions


WASHINGTON D.C. — According to a new study released April 15, the breakdown of the family is costing U.S. taxpayers at least $112 billion annually. The study from Georgia State University shows that in one decade the costs exceeded $1 trillion dollars coming from the taxpayers' pockets.

"This study documents for the first time, that divorce and unwed childbearing—besides being bad for children—are also costing taxpayers a ton of money," said David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values.  "Even a small improvement in the health of marriage in America would result in enormous savings to taxpayers," he  continued. "For example, a 1 percent reduction in rates of family fragmentation would save taxpayers $1.1 billion."

Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., economics professor at Georgia College & State University and the principal investigator said, "These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family fragmentation."

Prior research showed that marriage lifts single mothers out of poverty which reduces the need for social benefits. Scafidi said that the new report shows that public concern about the breakdown of the family does not have to be just based on 'moral' concerns but on high taxpayer costs.

According to the Family Research Council, if the government pledged to reduce family breakdown by just one percent, taxpayers could save around $1.1 billion dollars each year.

The savings could be put to more productive resources like teaching. In Washington state alone, the amount is equal to the cost of hiring over 15,000 public school teachers.

The report, "The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing" was commissioned by the Institute for American Values, Georgia Family Council, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Families Northwest.

Download of the research report
The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing.pdf