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Family Update, Online!

Volume 07  Issue 18 2 May 2006
Topic: Family Finances

Family Fact: Bankruptcy

Family Quote: Indentured Families

Family Research Abstract: The Unbalanced Budgets of Cohabitors

Family Fact of the Week: Bankruptcy TOP of PAGE

"Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts skyrocketed a record 30 percent in calendar year 2005, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2005, totaled 2,078,415, up from the 1,597,462 petitions filed in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2004. This was the largest number of bankruptcy petitions ever filed in any 12-month period in the history of the federal courts."

(Source:  "Bankruptcy Filings Surge in Calendar Year 2005," Administrative Office of the United States Courts, March 24, 2006; http://www.uscourts.gov/Press_Releases/bankruptcyfilings032406.html.)
Family Quote of the Week: Indentured Families TOP of PAGE

"In the internal politics of the Republican coalition, some members are consistently more equal than others. In particular, where the interests of the proverbial "Sam's Club Republicans" collide with the interests of the great banks, the Sam's Club set might as well pile into the family car and go home.

...In a nutshell, the [Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act] makes a 'clean start' after filing for bankruptcy much more difficult for families with at least one wage earner. Instead, most affected households will find themselves essentially indentured to a bank or credit card bureau, paying off their debt for years to come. 'A new form of feudalism,' one critic calls it.

... the Republican party has done relatively little to help traditional families, and may in fact be contributing to their new indentured status.

...Concerning one-income families, the great corporations continue to view them as a waste of human resources, artificially raising labor costs by holding adults at home. Judging by its inaction and results, the GOP agrees. For the same reason, large businesses generally favor federally subsidized day care, for it creates incentives for mothers to work rather than care for their children. Existing Republican policy strongly favors this social parenting. And the credit industry has every interest in creating a new, indentured debtor class annually sending 20 percent of its income to the banks. The Republicans concur.

...Moreover, when push comes to shove, social conservatives remain second class citizens under the Republican tent. During the 2004 Republican convention, they were virtually confined to the party's attic, kept off the main stage, treated like slightly lunatic children."

(Source:  Allan Carlson, "Indentured Families: Social conservatives and the GOP: Can this marriage be saved?" The Weekly Standard, March 27, 2006, Volume 011, Issue 26; http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/011/991nmrow.asp.)
For More Information TOP of PAGE

The Howard Center and The World Congress of Families stock a number of pro-family books, including The Family Wage: Work, Gender, and Children in the Modern Economy, with essays by Bryce Christensen, Allan Carlson, Maris Vinovskis, Richard Vedder, and Jean Bethke Elshtain. Please visit:

    The Howard Center Bookstore   

 Call: 1-815-964-5819    USA: 1-800-461-3113    Fax: 1-815-965-1826    Contact: Bookstore 

934 North Main Street Rockford, Illinois 61103

Family Research Abstract of the Week: The Unbalanced Budgets of Cohabitors TOP of PAGE

Though progressive commentators generally view it as a fully acceptable substitute for marriage, nonmarital cohabitation offers little to children. For cohabiting parents typically part with so much of their money at tobacco and liquor stores that they have little left to spend on their children. Indeed, the dubious spending practices of cohabiting parents stir deep concerns among economists from the University of Chicago and Michigan State University who examine them in a study recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Scrutinizing data collected between 1982 and 1998 for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Chicago and Michigan State scholars discern a pattern that indicates that "cohabiting-parent families allocate their budgets differently than do married-parent families." The differences appear "both in the level and in the share of expenditures allocated to different expenditure categories." In particular, the researchers find in quarter-by-quarter assessments that "cohabiting-parent families spend a greater amount on two adult goods - alcohol ($124.78) and tobacco ($170.18) - than do married-parent [families] ($80.06 on alcohol, $107.53 on tobacco)." Expenditure differences are statistically significant (p < 0.01) for both types of adult goods.

On the other hand, cohabiting parents spend significantly less than married parents on their children's education ($204.90 vs. $283.32; p < 0.01). They also spend significantly less than married parents on their children's health care ($381.30 vs. $440.42; p < 0.01), though the researchers acknowledge that this difference may reflect the fact that "cohabiting parents are more likely to be covered by Medicaid than are married-parent families (36% vs. 15%)."

It troubles the authors of the new study both that "cohabitors do not invest as much in the children in their households" as do married peers and that "they spend their income in ways less beneficial to healthy child environments."

The researchers speculate that many male cohabitors "invest less in the children's well-being" because they are "not biologically related" to the children in the home. However, they emphasize that "even biological cohabitors ... may have a different set of expectations, values, and lifestyle preferences than do biological fathers in married households." Thus, contrary to the theorizing of progressives that would define it as the functional equivalent of marriage, this new study provides strong "evidence that cohabitation is a distinct family type from marriage."

(Source: Thomas DeLeire and Ariel Kalil, "How Do Cohabiting Couples With Children Spend Their Money?" Journal of Marriage and Family 67 (2005)
 

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