Sound Public Policy for Stronger Michigan Families
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*Infant death rate is the number of deaths among infants under 1 year per 1,000 births.Source: Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and HealthData Development Section, 2003
among unmarried women (10.6%)compared to married women (6.9%).
More tragically, the infant death rateamong unmarried women is over twiceas high as that of babies born within theconfines of marriage.According to the CDCs NationalCenter for Health Statistics, Medicaidfunds pay for all or part of pregnancy re-lated medical costs for 68 percent of un-married women.
Among marriedwomen, public expenditures were used inonly 20 percent of the pregnancies.
Con- versely, 80 percent of married women re-ported using a combination of their ownmoney or insurance to pay for a preg-nancy, while 29 percent of unmarriedwomen reported doingso.
Governmentsources other than Med-icaid made up the bulk of the remaining expendi-tures. In 2003, Michiganpaid for 46,016 birthsthrough Medicaid.
Roughly 31,000 of thosebirths were to unmarriedmothers.Disadvantages for the mothers andbabies continue into the later years.Women who have children outside of marriage are almost four times as likelyto be in poverty. Based on U.S. Censusdata, 49.2 percent of unmarried womenwho give birth in Michigan are below thepoverty level, while only 12.9 percentwho give birth while married are belowthe poverty level.
This disparity is notbecause unmarried mothers are unableto get jobs. In fact, new mothers whoare unmarried are more likely to workoutside the home than are new motherswho are married. Households with mar-ried parents are more able to choosewhether both spouses work or whetherone works and the other (usually the wife)manages the home. Single mothers do nothave that option. Consequently, while69.5 percent of unmarried Michiganmothers work outside the home, only 57.6percent of married mothers choose to doso.
The evidence is overwhelming, andthe debate is largely settled regarding thewell-being of children in single-parentfamilies. Children are better off in everyfacet of lifesocially, economically, psy-chologically, academically, emotionallyand physicallywhen they are raised byboth biological parents. Children raised byboth biological parents are less likely tolive in poverty or experience health prob-lems.
Studies show that across everyrace and ethnic group, children living inmarried couple households have the low-est poverty rates.
Michigan must workto reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies forthe sake of the taxpayers, the benefit of the birthmothers, and, most importantly,for the sake of children who are alwaysbetter off when they have the benefit of living with their married, biological par-ents.
There are several actions Michigan cantake to begin to reduce out-of-wedlockpregnancies.
Michigan must begin to track thecosts associated with pre-maritalsexual activity, beginning with an ac-counting of public expenditures as-sociated with out-of-wedlock preg-nancies. Taxpayers have a right toknow how much "private choices" arecosting them. Similarly, the stateshould investigate how many unmar-ried women are receiving fertilitytreatments. Whether these treat-ments are paid for with tax dollars orby private insurers who are mandatedto pay for them, subsidizing the cre-ation of fatherless families seemsunwise, if not outright unethical.
"...nearly one-third of all births byunmarried women that year were in-tentionally conceived, according to the2002 PRAMS report. That translatesto nearly 14,000 babies intentionallyconceived by unmarried women."