Outcomes According to Family Structure

Outcomes According to Family Structure

Many people assert that alternative family forms—such as single parents, cohabiting couples, and families broken by divorce—are equal to the natural family as far as their effects on individuals and society. However, research demonstrates conclusively that alternative family forms provide different outcomes to individuals.

Social science research has conclusively proven that a strong family based on marriage between a man and a woman is the best environment to protect, nourish and develop individuals. This family structure provides significantly better outcomes than any alternative structure.

There are specific social benefits from man/woman marriage called “social goods,” which flow to both individuals and the larger society. These social goods are derived from the complementary physical, emotional, and spiritual union of a man and a woman.

The research findings summarized in the next section show that these “social goods” that come from man/woman marriage begin to disappear when individuals live outside of the married man/woman family structure. The research shows that any deviation from man/woman marriage generally results in serious negative outcomes for individuals and families. The findings come from a multitude of social scientists and other scholars and are remarkably consistent and compelling.

In the following section, studies gathered by the Family Watch International staff have been cited to support each key finding. The one or two representative studies cited barely scratch the surface of the available research. Many more references are available.

When compared to single adults, married adults:

– have significantly higher average household income. 1
– generally have better physical health. 2
– generally have better emotional health. 3
– are happier.4
– are more likely to be productive and engaged citizens. 5
– drink and smoke less. 6
– live longer. 7
– have lower rates of domestic violence. 8
– report they find more meaning and purpose in life. 9
– experience more satisfying sex lives. 10

When compared to children of non-married parents, children of married parents:

– are less likely to be aborted, abused, or neglected. 11
– spend more time with, and receive more affection from, their fathers. 12
– are less likely to have a premarital birth in high school. 13
– have higher grade point averages and lower dropout rates. 14
– do better economically. 15
– have better physical health and increased life expectancy. 16
– are less likely to have emotional or behavioral problems. 17
– engage in fewer risky behaviors (e.g., premarital sex and substance abuse). 18
– are less likely to divorce as adults. 19
– experience a lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 20

When compared to married couples, cohabiting couples:

– have worse physical and mental health. 21
– earn less and possess fewer assets. 22
– are much more likely to separate. 23
– experience more conflict and violence. 24
– receive less social support from friends and family. 25

When compared to married women, cohabiting women:

– have more depression and three times the alcohol problems. 26
– are three times as likely to experience physical aggression. 27
– experience at least three times the amount of violence. 28
– are more likely to suffer sexual abuse. 29

When compared to children in married households, children in cohabiting households:

– will receive a smaller share of their parents’ income for education. 30
– are more likely to cheat in, or be suspended from, school. 31
– are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior. 32
– face dramatically higher rates of physical and sexual abuse. 33
– show poorer emotional development. 34

When compared to married adults, separated or divorced adults:

– are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. 35
– experience noticeably higher rates of violence by spouses, ex-spouses, and/or boyfriends. 36
– suffer greater economic hardships (especially women). 37
– experience greater depression, substance abuse, and poor health. 38

When compared to children of married couples, children whose parents divorced:

– are less likely to attend and graduate from college. 39
– are more likely to experience economic hardship and deep poverty. 40
– are more likely to experience depression or anxiety in their 20s or 30s. 41
– have twice the risk of experiencing serious psychological problems. 42
– are more likely to get involved in early sexual activity. 43
– are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. 44
– are more likely to cohabitate or divorce. 45

When compared to heterosexual men, men who engage in homosexual behavior:

– experience a significantly higher rate of domestic violence with their partners. 46
– are up to seven times more likely to attempt suicide. 47
– have a lower life expectancy by 20 to 30 years. 48
– have an incidence of HIV/AIDS that is up to 430 times higher. 49
– have three times the number of drug and alcohol dependencies. 50
– are significantly more promiscuous, with very few maintaining fidelity. 51
– are more than twice as likely to have an STD. 52
– are significantly more likely to engage in pedophilia. 53
– are much more likely to have mental and emotional disorders/illnesses. 54
– are at higher risk of deliberate self-harm. 55

When compared to heterosexual youth, youth who engage in homosexual behavior:

– are at increased risk of suffering major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. 56
– are associated with more school and runaway problems. 57
– are more likely to attempt suicide. 58
– experience a much higher rate of alcoholism. 59
– are more likely to engage in substance abuse. 60
– are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behavior. 61

When compared to heterosexual women, lesbian women:

– are significantly more likely to be victims of domestic violence. 62
– experience a much higher rate of sexual coercion by their partner. 63
– are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. 64
– have a significantly higher risk of developing general anxiety disorder. 65
– are twice as likely to attempt suicide. 66
– are at higher risk for breast cancer. 67
– are at higher risk of deliberate self-harm. 68

Statistics for Children of Same-Sex Couples

A misleading claim that has been perpetuated is that there are “no differences” in the social and psychological outcomes for children raised by same-sex partners when compared to those raised by heterosexual parents. Some of the studies cited above clearly refute this, but this false claim is so widespread that it bears further examination.

Although exclusive homosexual parenting is a relatively new phenomenon, and more studies are needed in order to form definitive conclusions, the current body of research is fairly conclusive in showing that differences indeed exist for children raised in alternative situations. Moreover, according to experts who have examined this body of research, some pro-homosexual researchers seeking to prove there are no differences failed to report on the differences they did find.

Indeed, after examining available studies in this area, researcher Dr. Trayce Hansen found that children raised by homosexual parents have a four to ten times greater likelihood of engaging in homosexual behavior than other children. Specifically, her analysis of the studies conducted thus far indicates that between 8 percent and 21 percent of the children of homosexual parents consider themselves as non-heterosexual as compared to two percent in the general population. Dr. Hansen also cites the conclusions of researchers Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz, who, after reviewing 21 different studies, concluded that children parented by homosexuals are, in fact, different from children parented by heterosexuals in terms of sexual behavior and preference. 69

Dr. Hansen points out that the percentage of children identifying themselves as homosexual may have been even greater had more of the children studied been raised from birth by openly homosexual parents. Many had been born into heterosexual families that broke up later when one of the parents “came out” as homosexual. Dr. Hansen concludes that it should not be surprising that available studies suggest homosexual parents are rearing disproportionate numbers of non-heterosexual children. After all, parents pass on their values, viewpoints, priorities, etc., to their children. 70

Regarding the studies that claim to show no differences, independent evaluations of these studies have concluded that such research did not meet minimum scientific standards. Nevertheless, these flawed studies are cited as proof that same-sex parenting is equal to (or in some cases may be even better than) heterosexual parenting.

Some of the problems associated with those studies include:

  • Very small size samples.
  • Reliance on “self-reporting” by the same-sex parents themselves of the traits and characteristics of their children. (The parents may have a vested interest in representing their children to be as normal as possible.)
  • Self-selection of some of the subjects through homosexual advocacy magazines.
  • Comparison of children being raised by two lesbians to children being raised by single mothers, rather than to children being raised by heterosexual parents.
  • Even though female and male homosexuals parent very differently, research outcomes from children raised by two lesbian partners was applied to children raised by two male homosexual partners.
  • Failure of the researchers to control for children originally raised by heterosexual parents who broke up after the children’s formative years and found subsequent same-sex partners.71

Any conclusions derived from flawed research should not be considered credible or relied upon as the basis for taking policy actions such as expanding adoption privileges to include same-sex couples, legalizing same-sex marriage, or promoting technologically assisted childbearing for same-sex couples.

1  U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001.

2  Charlotte A. Schoenborn, “Marital Status and Health: United States, 1999-2002,” Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Number 351 (December 15, 2004).

3  Nadine F. Marks and James D. Lambert, “Marital Status Continuity and Change Among Young and Midlife Adults,” Journal of Family Issues 19 (November 1998).

4 Lee, G., Seccombe, K., & Shehan, C. (1991). Marital status and personal happiness: An analysis of trend data. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 839-844.

5 Corey L.M. Keyes, “Social Civility in the United States,” Sociological Inquiry 72 (2002); 393-408; Corey L.M. Keyes, “The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 43 (2002): 207-222.

6 Schoenborn, supra note 2.

7 Kaplan, RM; Kronick, RG. „Marital status and longevity in the United States population.“ Journal Of Epidemiology And Community Health 60: 760, 2006..

8 The Marriage License as Hitting License: A Comparison of Assaults in Dating, Cohabitating and Married Couples,” Journal of Family Violence 4(2): 161-180.

9 W. Bradford Wilcox, Linda Waite and Aldex Roberts, “Marriage and Mental Health in Adults and Children,” Research Brief No. 4 (February 2007), available: http://center.americanvalues.org.

10 The National Marriage Project, The state of our unions 2000: The social health of marriage in America (New Brunswick, NJ: The National Marriage Project, 2000).

11 Andrea J. Sedlak & Dinae D, Broadhurst, “The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996, xviii, 5-19; Jones RK, Darroch JE and Henshaw SK, Patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions in 2000–2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 34(5):226–235.

12 Sandra L. Hofferth & Kermyt G. Anderson, ”Are All Dads Equal? Biological versus Marriage as a Basis for Paternal Investment,” Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (February 2003): 213-222.

13 Kristin A. Moore et al., “Nonmarital School-Age Motherhood: Family, Individual, and School Characteristics,” Journal of Adolescent Research 13, Number 4 (October 1998): 433-457.


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