Why Marriage Matters

American College of Pediatricians 5 September 2016
Marriage is important for more reasons than you may think. “Why Marriage Matters” is a book that highlights 30 conclusions from social sciences that proclaim the importance of marriage. They have compiled the 30 reasons into 5 domains. Here is a list of the 30 findings.


  • Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers and mothers have good relationships with their children.
  • Children are most likely to enjoy family stability when they are born into a married family.
  • Children are less likely to thrive in complex households.
  • Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage.
  • Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.
  • Marriage is a virtually universal human institution.
  • Marriage, and a normative commitment to marriage, foster high-quality relationships between adults, as well as between parents and children.
  • Marriage has important biosocial consequences for adults and children.


  • Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers, and cohabitation is less likely to alleviate poverty than is marriage.
  • Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.
  • Marriage reduces poverty and material hardship for disadvantaged women and their children.
  • Minorities also benefit economically from marriage.
  • Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories.
  • Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure.
  • Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs.

Physical Health and Longevity

  • Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms.
  • Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality.
  • Marriage is associated with reduced rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens.
  • Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.
  • Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.
  • Marriage seems to be associated with better health among minorities and the poor.

Mental Health and Emotional Well-being

  • Children whose parents divorce have higher rates of psychological distress and mental illness.
  • Cohabitation is associated with higher levels of psychological problems among children.
  • Family breakdown appears to increase significantly the risk of suicide.
  • Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers.

Crime and Domestic Violence

    • Boys raised in non-intact families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
    • Marriage appears to reduce the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime.
    • Married women appear to have a lower risk of experiencing domestic violence than do cohabiting or dating women.
    • A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse.
    • There is a growing marriage gap between college-educated Americans and less educated Americans.
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