Why I’m a Conservative…Very Simple Answer

Jelly Bean President

As I start out 2013, I think back to some of the key moments in my life that have shaped my world view.  One such moment was the time a relative (a couple years younger than me) mentioned that I was known as the “throwaway child” in her household. Needless to say, this tidbit my relative shared wasn’t helpful at the time and I wished she had kept it to herself.

However, as the years went on and I had my own children, the image of the “throwaway child” was a robust reminder of how grateful I was for the opportunity to work hard and achieve based on my own merit–only in America (at least prior to 2008).  My achievements allowed me to rise from the self-doubt that emanated from my parent’s lack of affection and care. I always believed that once I was no longer directly affected by my parents’ poor choices, I could reap the benefits of my own choices and perhaps be free of the drama that plagued my parents’ lives.

I am a conservative today because my parents were not.  Without any guidance, I simply made the opposite choices they did and have enjoyed different results.  Simple math. If you’re a throwaway child, you too can triumph in marriage and child rearing, however, it will probably require adhering to traditional beliefs.

If you’re a conservative then you’re most likely a Republican.  However, that relationship is definitely changing. There are many in the Republican establishment echoing the insults of Democrats who call traditional values “tinfoil hat” issues.   These establishment Republicans need us tinfoil hat people if they’re going to win elections (Mitt Romney lost because the tinfoil hats didn’t show up). To sum up, the data doesn’t lie: overall, if you just stay married and don’t divorce, you’ll be wealthier and healthier than those who bail on their marriage and kids.

The Decline of Marriage in American Society

As an economist, I like to use numbers to tell a story.  Unfortunately, the story I have to tell today is a sad, and disturbing one–the decline of marriage in American society.

Using data from the Internal Revenue Service–hat tip to my husband for the pointer–we can look at how American’s file their tax returns and under what filing classifications:  Married Filing Jointly (a traditional family), Head of Household (a single parent with children), single (never-married or divorced) and other (widowers and married filing separately).

As you can see in the chart below, Married Filing Jointly is the only filing classification to have fallen as a percentage of all tax filers between 1996 (first year of available data) and 2008 (most recent year of available data).  In 1996, Married Filing Jointly made up 40.6 percent of all tax returns but by 2008 fell to 37.7 percent–a decline of 7.2 percent.

On the other hand, the fastest growing filing category was Head of Household up to 14.8 percent in 2008 from 13.8 percent in 1996–an increase of 7.7 percent.  This is not surprising since Head of Households are pulling from both Married Filing Jointly (through divorce for example) and Singles (through teenage pregnancies for example).  This filing group can also expand via another disturbing avenue–the sperm bank.

The next fastest growing (and largest overall) filing category is for Singles up to 45.6 percent in 2008 from 43.5 percent in 1996–an increase of 4.8 percent.  This is likely the result of younger generations delaying marriage until later in life.  This will have the result of increasing Single filers as a percentage of all tax filers.

This ongoing decline of marriage in American society is also a significant contributing factor in the falling number of children as well.  A single mom simply can not raise the number of children as could an intact family.  This is leading to a new phenomena being called Demographic Winter where there are too few children to support the current level of population.  Demographic Winter in the U.S. in most pronounced in Northern New England.

Interestingly, the IRS has more good data that I can plumb . . . stay tuned.

Chart Showing The Decline of Marriage in American Society