The Family GDP: How Marriage and Fertility Drive the Economy

Republicans and Democrats differ on a wide range of issues, but almost all elected officials in Washington, D.C., believe that a key responsibility of both the White House and Congress is keeping the economy running at full-speed, providing an ever-increasing number of jobs, products, and services for the American people. Elections are won or lost on the public’s perception of the ability of a president and his party to implement policies that contribute to a rising Gross Domestic Product and rising standards of living. The parties differ as to the means to achieve these ends. Yet from George W. Bush’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program signed into law in October 2008 to Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package passed in February 2009, the parties share a commitment—especially during a recession like the current one that started in 2007—to keep the American Dream alive by getting the economy back on track as quickly as possible. The preoccupation of Washington with immediate crises and quick fixes, however, prevents both parties from sowing seeds today that may not bear fruit tomorrow but will nonetheless generate a rich harvest in the next generation. If they did, policymakers would have long ago responded to an equally important crisis—the meltdown of the American family—that started in the late 1960s and is an underlying cause of the current economic slowdown, according to former Wall Street analyst and Forbes columnist David Goldman.[1] It appears that the strategists that advise both political parties have lost sight of the indispensable building block upon which the fortunes of the economy depends: the married-parent household—especially the child-rich family that worships weekly. Not only have the experts overlooked this “fundamental,” but also few have expressed concern that the absolute number of married-parent families with children under 18 years of age, a key driver of economic growth, has remained largely flat since Ri
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