"Family structure has profound effects on an area's economic wellbeing. There is no more important factor in determining dependence on welfare programs that aim to fix organic poverty, such as TANF and food stamps. Our analysis shows family intactness is the second most important factor in an area's level of poverty among women and children, as well as the top factor in determining an area's teenage out-of-wedlock birth rate – a source of poverty itself. Family strength is as important in determining an area's employment rate among men as the fraction of its adults that have completed high school.
"Congress and state legislatures need to evaluate every new piece of public spending to ascertain whether it will increase or decrease the number of intact married families. Many, if not most, public spending streams decrease family intactness. This is totally irrational as a long-term strategy for the social infrastructure of the nation and guarantees decreased productivity and education attainment and increased dysfunctions in every measured area of social concern.
"The biggest challenge facing the nation is solving the problem of how broken families (where mother and father no longer raise their children together) can raise children who will have intact marriages. If we do not learn how to solve this problem, the U.S. will continue to decline," Fagan concluded.