NZ-led Research Highlights Importance of Marriage

Family First Media Release 15 December 2009
Family First NZ is welcoming research from the University of Otago today highlighting the benefits of marriage for mental health, and the negative impacts of separation and divorce.

“The weakening of marriage is one of the most important social issues we are facing in NZ,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“This research comes as no surprise following on from the release of 21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters by Family First which summarized research around marriage with 146 researched footnotes including NZ-based research. The research presents strong evidence that marriage is more than a private emotional relationship. It is a social good and we should develop policies, laws, and family and community interventions to help strengthen marriages.”

“The issue of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates is barely registering a mention or a policy. Yet this latest research adds to the argument that strengthening marriage and reducing family breakdown is a significant public concern, both in human costs and economically,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“It is time that government policies and rhetoric acknowledged that there is a difference in terms of outcomes between marriage and other forms of relationship.”

Family First’s report in 2008 entitled “The Value of Family – Fiscal Benefits of Marriage and Reducing Family Breakdown in New Zealand”, prepared by the independent New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), estimated that the fiscal cost to the taxpayer of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates is at least $1 billion per year and has cost approximately $8 billion over the past decade.

Family First in conjunction with the NZIER has also highlighted the ‘marriage tax’ which penalises a married couple by up to $15,000 in their household income compared with a couple who separates or divorces.

“Whenever marriage is promoted, it has often been labeled as an attack on solo or divorced parents, and that has kept us from recognizing the qualitative benefits of marriage which have been discovered from decades of research,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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