On February 12, 2014, Family Research Council’s (FRC) Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released its fourth annual “Index of Family Belonging and Rejection.” The Index is the most robust measure of the health of the U.S. family available.
- – Only 46 percent of American 15- to 17-year-olds were raised with both their biological parents married to one another (belonging to each other) since before or around the time of their birth.
- – The parents of 54 percent of American 15- to 17-year-olds have rejected one another.
- – Regionally, the Northeast (50 percent) has the highest Family Belonging Index and the South (42 percent) has the lowest.
- – Utah (57 percent), Minnesota (56 percent), and Nebraska (55 percent) have the highest Family Belonging Indices of all the states.
- – The District of Columbia (17 percent), Mississippi (32 percent), and Louisiana (36 percent) have the lowest Family Belonging Indices of all the states.
- – Family belonging is strongest among Asians (65 percent) and weakest among Blacks (17 percent).
MARRI Director Dr. Pat Fagan made the following comments:
“The good news is that marriage held its own in the last year. The bad news is that more than half the children of the nation have parents who turned out to be false Valentines: they did not love each other through thick and thin. But the good news is there are many real Valentines out there. And interestingly the most Valentine-like group is Asian Americans. If you want commitment you will find more of it there than anywhere else.
“Belonging to each other is very important because family structure has profound effects on an area’s economic wellbeing as well as in all major areas of concern: health, happiness, peace and law-abidingness. Our recent study that used the Index to measure its relevance to the well-being of the nation clearly demonstrated that marriage is the key to success in all public policy goals.
“There is no more important factor in determining outcomes in a host of government focused policies such as TANF, food stamps, SSI and housing, and even college education. Family intactness is as important in determining an area’s employment rate among men as is the fraction of its adults that have completed high school. Marriage is society’s foundational relationship. The biggest challenge we face is how to make miracles: How do we raise children who will marry even though they grew up within broken families. This is our central challenge: how to belong to another even if our parents didn’t. There is a lot of work for Valentine to do in the U.S. today,” Fagan concluded.
Previous Belonging Indices and analysis by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute are available here.