Parents and Children<br />
Family Portrait<br />
Family Bond<br />
Happy Family<br />
Love and Togetherness<br />
Family Time<br />
Family Happiness<br />
Family Unity<br />
Multi-Generational Family<br />
Family Love<br />
Smiling Family<br />
Family Fun<br />
Joyful Family<br />
Family Connection<br />
Family Memories<br />
Family Gathering<br />
Family Affection<br />
Close-knit Family<br />
Family Support<br />
Family Values

Imagine a Georgia family miracle


Key Points

  • Utah’s economic success and high levels of happiness are attributed to the quantity of marriages and cohabiting married parents, leading to strong family structures and economic mobility.
  • The “Family Impact Perspective” proposed by Brad Wilcox offers guidelines to strengthen marriages, encourage desired parenthood, improve family affordability, and enhance family relationships in pursuit of economic success and well-being.
  • Georgia, facing economic challenges and family-related issues, can learn from Utah’s success and consider implementing similar policies and projects to foster a “Georgia Family Miracle” and improve economic mobility rates.
No matter how you spin it, Utah has enjoyed great success in recent years. The Beehive State tops national charts economically—with particular success in economic mobility— as well as scoring highly in happiness, evaluated through emotional health ratings. 

Sociologist Brad Wilcox attributes these achievements to the quantity of marriages in the state. In Utah, adults ages 18-55 are 10% more likely to be married than other Americans (55% versus the national average of 45%) and children are 7% more likely to grow up with cohabiting married parents than their peers in other states (82% versus the national average of 75%).

What’s more, Utah enjoys some of the greatest economic mobility in the country. And according to numerous economists, this is probably due to young people living in married families. Wilcox writes that the poor children in the Salt Lake area whose lot is improving “are much more likely to be raised in a two-parent family and to be surrounded by peers from two-parent families than poor kids in other metro areas.” 

Yet Utah’s economic success has also attracted many newcomers to the state, who have driven the marriage and fertility rates down, as Wilcox explains. Across the state’s counties, from Salt Lake City to rural areas to Utah County, which boasts some of the highest population and birth rate growth, immigration has inflated population counts and decreased fertility. While the state still leads the country in fertility and marriage, there are indeed “clouds on the horizon” as national cultural norms descend upon the state. 

The “Utah Family Miracle” might be seeing its last days. 


Where do we go from here?

In a recent report with the Sutherland Institute, Wilcox promotes a “Family Impact Perspective” through which all “states laws, regulations and initiatives” might be considered. He writes that this framework would assist in the pursuit of the following targets: 

  • Strengthen marriagemeasured in terms of both the rate and stability of marriage
  • Encourage couples to have the children they wish to have 
  • Make family life affordable for ordinary working families 
  • Enable husbands, wives, children, and especially parents to maximize their time with their families
  • Increase the quality of family relationships by increasing positive and reducing negative (e.g., domestic violence) interactions in families.

 This perspective is flexible to the needs of the state and offers guidelines and signs of success for legislators and the families that they serve.

Georgia, facing economic challenges and family-related issues, can learn from Utah’s success and consider implementing similar policies and projects to foster a “Georgia Family Miracle” and improve economic mobility rates.

Georgia, facing economic challenges and family-related issues, can learn from Utah’s success and consider implementing similar policies and projects to foster a “Georgia Family Miracle” and improve economic mobility rates.

Sutherland and Wilcox’s report culminates in five policy recommendations that solidify the Family Impact Perspective. Utah already enjoys ranking as the best state in the country for families, but even there these productive steps are under consideration.

  1. State reports should consider family structure when they track other socioeconomic factors.  
  2. The “Success Sequence” proposed by the Institute for Family Studies should be worked into public school curricula and premarital education.
  3. States should provide families with young children a monthly allowance to “empower parents in their capacity to make choices about how to best care for their children.”
  4. Address families’ cost of living, considering housing, schooling, and food as issues integral to family decisions.
  5. Create a state commission on men and boys, as men everywhere increasingly fall by the wayside. 

These ideas address the biggest issues facing families in a holistic, productive manner. Georgia would do well to consider implementing similar policies and undertaking such projects. 


What’s in it for Georgia? 

A Georgia Family Miracle. 

The state has much to gain by considering what it would take to improve economic mobility rates until they rival Utah’s. Currently, Georgia lags in 12th economically and 24th for fiscal stability, and the economic mobility rate has drawn critical attention for a decade. While many factors feed into economic mobility, leading Georgians ought to encourage study into the impact of family structure and costs of living on the prospects of the youngest citizens. 

Georgia’s immigration rates are much lower than Utah’s (-2.5%, whereas 8.4% of Utah’s population are immigrants). This means Georgia might enjoy greater cultural stability, which should not be taken for granted. Rather, Georgia’s leaders ought to double down in their service to the constituency’s families and help them build happier homes where they have better relationships.

By multiple measurements, marriage in Georgia is far from the worst in the country, but there is still much work to be done if Georgians are to have the families and futures that they want. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, in 2021, Georgia’s marriage rate was only 60% of Utah’s (at rates of 5.5% and 9.1%, respectively). Demographers have reported for years that Georgia’s divorce rate is among the highest in the U.S., and a 2020 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Georgia Family Connection Partnership found that 33.5% of Georgia’s kids live in single-parent households—not accounting for cohabiting, unmarried parents.  

The easiest ways to increase familial connection include reducing tech use in the home, making family life more affordable with an allowance, and strengthening existing marriages through close review of couple’s needs, especially men struggling to be dependable citizens and fathers.

About The Author

David Bass

Press Manager

David Bass is a journalist and communications professional with nearly two decades of experience in the world of PR, marketing, and publications.

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