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Ron Haskins, a special adviser to President Bush on welfare policy, pushed for marriage, including same-sex marriage, as a way to help reduce poverty in a Hartford appearance this week.
Haskins said his research shows that marriage is the factor that reduces the chance of poverty more than any other, except for the obvious one, full-time work.
He said that marriage reduced the chances of poverty even more than reducing family size, doubling payouts for welfare recipients, and increasing education.
Haskins added that creating jobs, expanding quality preschool programs, and providing help for low-income parents coming into the workforce.
Haskins also admittedly broke from the position held by most of his fellow republican party members by saying that his theory on the positive effects of marriage extended to same-sex couples.
Deputy director and senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, Jodie Levin-Epstein admitted that Haskins' stance on marriage was not without merit. She said research has often shown that children are often much better off when they are raised in stable, supportive households with married parents.
But, Epstein said, some of that has to do with having two parents who work and have incomes.
Epstein expressed concerns about encouraging marriage to the point of government policy. She said that there have also been studies showing that children of divorced couples are often worse off than those in single-parent homes, because of the associated emotional turbulence and other issues.
Epstein said that a two-parent home with stability and support is key. However, she cited research that said providing greater assistance to low-income parents through earned income tax credits helps also. The research she cited said that recipients of the extra help did not use the money for tobacco or alcohol as some thought they would.
They used it for costs related to work, such as buying a better car, getting more food, or buying a phone.
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