WASHINGTON: Would tax reform, including a larger tax deduction for children of married parents stem the divorce rate in America?

An article I was reading from American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (“AEI“) suggested that tax reform policies that are “pro family” (such as a larger dependent deduction) might just be what the GOP needs to promise voters in order to take the White House back from Barack Obama. Might it also be what the country needs to further stent the divorce rate?

The author Michael Barone states: “Conservative public policy reforms in the 1990s significantly reduced bad behaviors.” And it appears that failing at marriage or getting divorced might be one of those “bad behaviors” that he feels need public policy reform. He quotes tech entrepreneur Jim Manzi who, in an article in National Affairs discusses  “the growing disparity in behavioral norms and social conditions between the upper and lower income strata in American society.” Says Mr. Barone in his AEI piece:

Manzi notes that the behavioral revolution of the 1960s and 1970s produced hugely higher divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth rates. Then in the past two decades the rates of divorce and unmarried parenthood have fallen back to 1950s levels among college graduates. But they have remained high, or even increased, among non-college graduates, which we may take as a reasonable proxy for the underhalf.

So he advocates tax reforms as this sort of  “pro-family” measure that could be a part of the GOP’s platform.  Somehow, bigger tax deductions would foster stronger marriages–particularly for the lower, less educated classes, I guess.

Hme…well, as far as the divorce rate among the educated and wealthy in this country, I can’t tell from doing this blog that the affluent and the educated are any better at marriage than the poor. They very well may be but I see no proof of it as their marriages seem to be busting up left and right. Nonetheless, if public reform policies such as bigger tax deductions will encourage folks to stay married and would stem the “bad behavior” of getting divorced and breaking up the family, I am all for such policies. Why not? Married folks across America need all the incentives they can get to stay married. Everybody knows that kids are expensive. Everybody knows that conflicts about money are usually at the heart of many busted up marriages. If having more disposable dollars  in their pockets (due to larger tax deductions they get for dependent kids) keeps married couples together in this country, I am all for it.

What do you think?

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