A new British study has found that while kids of married parents tend to be ahead of their out-of-wedlock peers in terms of intellectual development, this has little to do with marriage itself.
According to the Guardian, researchers from Britain's Institute for Fiscal Studies looked at children born in the early 2000s. They found that those born to unmarried parents were behind other kids in cognitive and "socio-emotional" functioning at ages three, five, and seven. However, this isn't because marriage is magic. Rather, say the researchers, "cohabiting parents tend to have lower educational qualifications than married parents." Study author Ellen Greaves explains,
It is true that children born to married couples are on average more cognitively and emotionally successful than children born to cohabiting couples. But careful analysis shows that this largely reflects the differences between the types of people who decide to get married and those who don't.
That is, getting married isn't going to miraculously make a couple's kids smarter, but having a certain level of education and economic security might make people more likely to get married. And kids whose parents have that education and security can do better in a lot of ways — at least in ways social scientists can measure. So the solution is to help parents get to a good place in their lives, whether or not that includes marriage — not to try to make every woman marry her baby daddy.