The Marriage Effect: Money or Parenting?

Source: Kimberly Howard and Richard V. Reeves, Brookings Institution, Social Mobility Memos, September 4, 2014

There is a growing marriage gap along class lines in America. This may be bad news for social mobility, since children raised by married parents typically do better in life on almost every available economic and social measure. But it is important to try and understand why the children of married parents do better. Is it simply because they have, on average, higher family incomes? (Two earners are better than one, and one household is cheaper to run than two.) Or are two committed spouses better able to provide consistent parenting? Is it marriage itself that matters, or is marriage the visible expression of other factors, that are the true cause of different outcomes? And if so, which ones?…