What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us

Study: Broken homes cost U.S. billions

Marketplace Staff Apr 15, 2008


Renita Jablonski: Here’s something to consider on this tax day: A new study estimates divorce and unwed childbearing cost taxpayers $112 billion every year. John Dimsdale has more from Washington.

John Dimsdale: Sponsored by the Institute for American Values, the report finds people from broken homes make more use of government programs. Georgia College economics professor Ben Scafidi is the report’s author.

Ben Scafidi: They’re more likely to use Medicaid. More likely to use school nutrition programs. They’re more likely to go to jail.

Scafidi says public policies that promote marriage could reduce the taxpayer cost of divorce and out-of-wedlock births. But University of Michigan economist Rebecca Blank says it’s wrong to think that money is ill-spent.

Rebecca Blank: Divorce and family break up are a fact of life in this society and not one that is going to go away anytime soon. We need to do some things to make sure that the children and families that come out of that situation are helped.

The report’s sponsors say businesses should adopt more family-friendly employee benefits to help families stay together.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.