Marriage Promotion? Try Immigration Demotion!
May 08, 2004, 05:00 AM
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[Also by Linda Thom: School Overcrowding: The (Unspoken) Immigration Dimension and The U.S. Government Is Electing A New People]

In this election year, President Bush renewed his proposal to spend $1.5 billion to promote marriage. Bush first announced his idea during the 2002 welfare reform overhaul.

Welfare reformers correctly believe that unmarried parents generally live in poverty. That, in turn, makes it difficult for their children to be nurtured into healthy and happy adults. Statistics support that theory.

But statistics also support the view that, to reduce the growing numbers of unmarried mothers, the president and Congress would get more mileage by spending the $1.5 billion on reducing immigration. And lowering immigration would also have the direct effect of cutting poverty because so many immigrants do not have the job skills to escape minimum wage jobs.

In December, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released its annual report, "Births: Final Data for 2002." According to the data, annual births in 1990 were 4,092,994. In 2002, they were 4,021,726—a decline of 71,268 births.

During the same period, births to unmarried women rose from 1,165,384 in 1990 to 1,365,966 in 2002—an increase of a little over 200,000.

The birth rate for married women declined from 93.2 to 86.3 births per 1,000 women. That caused the decline in overall births.

The birth rate for unmarried women also remained virtually unchanged—from 43.8 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years in 1990 to 43.7 births per 1,000 women in 2002.  

But, as the NCHS report puts it:

"Increases in the number of non marital births since 1995 are due almost entirely to the 10-percent rise in the number of unmarried women of childbearing age."

The important point is that a large proportion of these unmarried women are immigrants and their first-generation daughters.

Further, the NCHS report states:

"In 2002 the [birth] rate for unmarried, Hispanic women was highest at 87.9 per 1,000, followed by black women at 66.2, non-Hispanic white women at 27.8, and Asian or Pacific Islander women, at 21.3. The birth rate for unmarried black women has fallen steeply during the 1990's through 2002, from 90.5 per 1,000 to 66.2 in 2002."

The birth rates for unmarried, non-Hispanic white and Asian women remained essentially unchanged while the rate for Hispanic women "has trended slowly up since 1998 (82.8)."

Between 1995 and 2002, annual births declined but annual births to Hispanic women rose. Annual births to Hispanic women increased by 196,874 and births to non-Hispanic white and black women declined by 40,551. Of the increase in Hispanic births, Mexican-origin women accounted for 157,890 or 80 percent of the Hispanic increase.

Births to non-Hispanic women declined. Births to Hispanic women increased.

Essentially, therefore, Hispanics caused the increase in births outside of wedlock.

And these unmarried Hispanic women are immigrants and children of immigrants.

According to the NCHS, in 2002, Hispanic women gave birth to 876,642 children and 63 percent of these mothers were foreign-born, mostly from Mexico (627,505).

Of the 210,907 Asian births, 83 percent (175,264) were to immigrants—but recall that Asian women have the lowest birthrates of all groups for unmarried women, 21.3 per 1,000.

President Bush wants to reduce the welfare caseload by spending $1.5 billion to assist immigrant parents to get married. That's really the bottom line.

But what's the point if President and Congress keep importing a population with a high propensity to be poor, and to have children out of wedlock?  

Linda Thom [email her] is a retiree who fled California three years ago. She formerly worked as an officer for a major bank and as a budget analyst for the County Administrator of Santa Barbara.