Are Marriage Subsidies Worth It?

Madeleine Schwartz tallies the cost to the federal coffers:

In 2002, the Bush administration diverted over $100 million dollars from existing welfare programs to create the Healthy Marriage Initiative, a national program to disseminate the importance of matrimony. Displaced funds included $14 million from child welfare, $6.1 million from a child support enforcement program, $9 million worth of support for refugees, and $40 million from a development strategies program focusing on Native Americans. Three years later, the US government sanctioned up to $150 million more per year to support “healthy marriage and responsible programs.”

A change of political parties has not tempered the flow: in the last fiscal year, Congress approved $75 million in spending on marriage promotion activities and $75 million for responsible fatherhood initiatives. This, of course, does not include the cost of marriage to individuals themselves (the average American wedding costs over $27,000, according to Reuters). That’s a lot to spend on an institution with a known failure rate of about 50 percent.