Sutherland Newsletter – April 10, 2008

1.Marriage Breakdown Costs Utah Taxpayers $276 Million a Year

New research shows a $276 million annual cost to Utah taxpayers from high rates of divorce and unmarried childbearing.  This information was released at a press conference on April 15, 2008 by the Sutherland Institute’s new Center for Family and Society and comes from the landmark scholarly study, The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All 50 States.

“This study documents for the first time that divorce and unwed childbearing – besides being bad for children – are also costing Utah taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Paul T. Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute.  “Even a small improvement in the health of marriage in our state would result in enormous savings to taxpayers.”


Statewide figures for all 50 states are included in this national report which was conducted by four renown policy and research groups – Institute for American Values, Georgia Family Council, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Families Northwest.  Of the 235,000 total Utah households in poverty, 57.4 percent are headed by females. If those female-headed households were to become married, then 60 percent of them would be lifted out of poverty, as research indicates is the cautious assumption. This means that total poverty in Utah would be reduced by 34.5 percent.


“These costs are due to increased taxpayer expenditures for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs, and through lower levels of taxes paid by individuals whose adult productivity has been negatively affected by increased childhood poverty caused by family fragmentation,” said Bill Duncan, director of Sutherland Institute’s Center for Family and Society.


According to the study, the taxpayer costs of divorce and unwed childbearing for the entire nation is $112 billion, or over $1 trillion in the last decade.


2.Utah’s AG is Taking Steps to Increase Government Transparency

While addressing a group of center/right bloggers on Wednesday, April 9, at the Sutherland Institute, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced that a new website is in the works for his department, which is intended to create more transparency for the public.  Shurtleff said all of his press conferences will be streamed live on the website.  The website will also include other interactive functions with the possibility of a blog.




“We commend the Attorney General’s effort to expand transparency to all levels of government,” said Lyall Swim, director of operations for the Sutherland Institute.  “History shows us that a free and prosperous Utah requires an informed public and a government committed to act in an ethical and principled manner.  We hope other agencies will follow the Attorney General’s example.”