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Jamaica could reap rich social dividends from incentivising marriage to stem a rise in divorce rate even as fewer people are opting to march down the aisle, a family-life lobbyist has said.
Offering couples special benefits to say I do could pay off in the long run for the economy, Dr Michael Coombs of the National Association of the Family, believes.
Making the pitch, Coombs – a co-advocate for the Man Up Jamaica Initiative, which teaches young males the importance of marriage, fathering, and the family – said that the best fathering occurs in the context of healthy, intact marriages.
“That is no if nor maybe,” he said at a Gleaner Men’s Forum last week. “It’s backed up by solid research and I can give you all the references. Child outcomes are better … . So, therefore, the promotion of marriages [is necessary], and the statistics and data are there suggesting that there is a decline in the number of marriages taking place and, in fact, divorces are on the increase.”
Data from the Registrar General’s Department and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) show that Jamaicans are falling out of love with marriage, as weddings have declined almost 23 per cent in the nine years up to 2018. That means that almost 10,000 fewer people are getting married here.
STATIN notes that the number of new marriages fell in 2018, reflecting a steady decrease from 21,692 ceremonies in 2009 to 16,792 last year.
Younger couples are shying away from the holy covenant as more people call it quits after getting hitched for the wrong reasons.
Coombs, however, says that promoting healthy marriages with proper parenting where both mother and father live up to their roles is one of the greatest investments a country could make.
“For us to have more marriages, there need to be some incentives, especially for men who are still primarily the initiators of family formation. That is still a fact. I understand that we have some ladies who are now proposing, but by and large, it is still males who make that move. So If we are really going to really restore marriages or invest in marriage for national development or economy, then we have to find a way to incentivise,” Coombs said at the forum.
One country which has been incentivising marriage is Hungary. That government offers married couples a 10-million forint (around J$4.7 million) loan, which they do not have to pay back if they have three children. The funds can be spent on anything the couple wants and are interest-free.
Coombs believes schemes such as this could help to foster development in the long run.
“Men are saying, ‘Well, if there is no difference between if I am married or not married, it nuh mek no sense for me to get bogged down and have to pay to settle divorce cases’. A lot of young men are now making that argument that they are not interested in marriages because there are no incentives, and they are correct,” Coombs said.
News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20191119/intl-mens-day-2019-incentivise-marriages-advocate-believes-benefits