By: Celia Carr- Assistant External News Editor
According to a new report headed by a right-wing family advocacy group, the well-being of a Canadian depends on whether or not they are in a marriage or a common-law union.
The report, titled “The Marriage Gap Between Rich and Poor Canadians,” by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, outlines how divorce and being a single parent increases the likelihood of poverty for both children and mothers. Married couples on the other hand tend to build more wealth on average in comparison to single people or couples who only live together.
According to the group’s website “the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada conducts, compiles and presents the latest and most accurate research to ensure that marriage and family-friendly policy are foremost in the minds of Canada’s decision makers,” and additionally the website quotes, “Family is the foundation of our society. We explore the causes and consequences of family breakdown and of family strength. We want to help Canadian leaders better understand the impact their policies are having on families,” which is exactly what they’ve tried to accomplish in this most recent report.
The study asserts that marriage is not necessarily a “silver bullet” for social problems, but it concludes that a healthy marriage can promote economic and overall social well-being in both the private and public spheres.
The group based the findings in their report on Statistics Canada data on labour and income dynamics. The statistics shown in the report reveal that 86 per cent of the highest income quartile are those who are married or live in common-law with their partner. The middle-income quartile only 49 per cent of couples are married or in a common-law relationship, and lastly there are only 12 per cent of married or common-law relationships in the lowest-income bracket. They also found that these numbers remained relatively stable over the 30 years that were studied from 1976 to 2011.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada are using these numbers to suggest that governments in the country as well as the private sector should encourage matrimony in order to promote both social and financial wellbeing. As well the report outlines the suggestion for a public education campaign which would encourage the younger generation to pursue post-secondary education and postpone having children to increase having a better chance of successful unions.
Peter Jon Mitchell, senior researcher at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, spoke to reporters on Feb. 25, and said “Marriage helps secure friends and family networks in times of need such as job loss or the loss of a family member. And stable married families also serve as an avenue for social mobility for children.” He added that the same holds true for same-sex marriage unions according to data that was included in the study from 2006 onward.
Mitchell did state however that the information is unclear on whether marriage is actually able to create wealth or if the wealthy are simply more likely to enter a marriage union. He said, “A better question might be whether the wealth of marriage is inaccessible to those who are lower income. If so, what can we do about it? Asking how marriage is faring along income lines is an important step in the process of looking to eradicate poverty, long term.”
He also made it clear that the organization is not trying to convince people to enter a marriage for the economic benefits but he says it’s important that Canadians start to have these conversations and acknowledge that the gap exists. This includes discussing why married couples enjoy economic benefits that single people are not afforded.
“I’m not saying economics is the primary motivation for getting married. I’m sure that it isn’t, and I don’t think it actually should be. I think that would actually be pretty cold. But we’re certainly raising that as one aspect to think about,” said Mitchel.
For more information visit the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada at imfcanada.org/canadian-marriage-gap or to read the full report go to imfcanada.org