Divorce. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that children of divorce are more likely to live in poverty. What causes divorce? I don't know all of the reasons, but we know that divorce was less likely in times past. Maybe the question we should be asking is what prevents divorce. It turns out that the extent to which courts enforce alimony and child support increases the probability that a woman will seek divorce. H/T Dalrock. Dalrock points out that the authors of the study think this is a good thing, because it allows mothers to have more leverage over fathers in marriage. Why this is good is not explicitly stated. Any discussion of reducing the rate of divorce has to start with reducing the incentives, including alimony which typically goes to the woman, because woman tend to marry up.
Single Parenthood. The divorce rules will also provide an incentive for men to avoid marriage as well. The greater the potential financial penalty in a potential divorce, the less willing will men be to enter into marriage. Given the average woman's desire to have offspring and the uncertainties of birth control and the lack of opprobrium surrounding extramarital sex, there are powerful incentives for men to avoid marriage. Changing the ground rules in family court might help change these incentives. Perhaps the old rules requiring a cause of action for divorce would apply if one of the aggrieved parties desired alimony or child support. Flimsy reasons for divorce provided by supposedly Christian mommy-bloggers might not look so attractive if no child support or alimony were forthcoming.
Penalizing Marriage. The ACA encourages divorce because of the way that subsidies are tied to the poverty level.
Any married couple that earns more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level—that is $62,040—for a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. "If you're over 400 percent of poverty, you're never eligible for premium" support, explains Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation.The tax code overall is mixed regarding penalties and bonuses for getting married. Continuing to ensure that there is no penalty for marriage is helpful.
But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each—$91,920 total—and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state, where insurance is comparatively expensive and the state exchange was set up in such a way as to not provide lower rates for younger people.
These are a few ideas that come to mind. I am not so naive as to believe that economic incentives by themselves will change the culture, and surely not in the short term. But I notice that people respond to incentives in the long run.
What You Should Be Reading
- If you want Christian perspective on culture that is not polluted by the screed of feminism, then try KTCat, Dalrock and Sunshine Mary.
- Dean is back, noting the falling U.S. economic freedom index.
- In a small blow for economic freedom, federal judges overturned ridiculous FCC rules on net neurality.
- The City Journal because it has excellent in depth policy discussion that will get you thinking.
- Legal Insurrection documents the administration's march towards Hugo Chavez style thugocracy, with its proposed rules to quash conservative groups' tax exempt status, while leaving leftists' untouched.