Utah families: The key to economic success and the challenges ahead

Jul 19, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: Nov 7, 2023, 9:33 am

SALT LAKE CITY — As far as economic outlook goes, Utah is usually at or near the top. What’s our secret?

One report suggests that it’s Utah families, and that when Utah families flourish, Utah businesses and communities flourish with them. 

The report by Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and visiting scholar of the Sutherland Institute, dives into what makes Utah families unique.

Wilcox found that 82% of children in Utah are living in the homes of married couples. This is 7% higher than the national average. In Utah County, almost 90% of children live in a married-couple household.

However, there has been a decline. Both marriage rates and the full-time working rate is going down for young men, even here in Utah.

“I think we need to do a better job of forming our young women and young men to understand and appreciate how much full-time work matters as you’re getting started in life,” said Wilcox.

Overcoming challenges for Utah families

Even as Utah excels, these new challenges emerging might disrupt this modern economic miracle.

Smartphones, social media, and video games can disrupt traditional family structures and patterns that could potentially lead to a decline in socializing, marriage, and childbirth.

Wilcox said that this is mostly in young men and boys. He said, “[boys] are floundering in school, spending too much time playing video games, and not really growing up and being responsible, flourishing young men. 

“In this new report for the Southerland Institute, we articulate five different policy ideas, but the final one is to have the state inaugurate a commission on men and boys,” said Wilcox.

The goal of the commission would be to address how to change approaches to teaching to become more “boy-friendly” and to make sure that our schools, nationwide, are doing as much for boys as they are for girls.

Wilcox also stressed the need to give young men positive role models, “If we’re wanting to be serious about giving our young men a model of masculinity, we’ve got to be much more, intentional, about articulating norms, values, and aspirations that would be compelling to boys and young men as well.”

“If boys are not thriving, if young men are not thriving, that means to that, our girls, and our young women are going to be oftentimes upset with the options available to them.” said Wilcox.

What’s the key to success?

The short answer?

Hard work, education, and marriage.

“[There is a] very clear connection in the research between education, work, and marriage, and flourishing financially,” said Wilcox

He said there is also a fairly clear sequence to success for both financial security, a strong family foundation.

“The success sequence is this idea articulated by Bell Sahil and Ron Haskins, at Brookings a number of years ago that if you get at least a high school degree, work full-time in your 20s or early 20s, and get married before having kids, you’re much more likely to be flourishing financially,” Wilcox said.

“In particular, we see in the more recent data is that 97% of young adults in their late 20s and into their 30s, who follow those three steps are not poor. [In fact,] by the time they hit their late 20s and 30s, 86% of them have reached the middle class or higher.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Business + Economy

Salt Lake City’s downtown skyline on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Jazz owner Ryan Smith continues to d...

Mariah Maynes

Utah Jazz owner hypes potential “sports-centered” downtown Salt Lake

Ryan Smith, the owner of the Utah Jazz, is hyping up the possibility of bringing more professional sports teams to Utah. 

9 hours ago

FILE: An Angel bike given to the family of Eli Mitchell in April, 2023. Mitchell was hit and killed...

Britt Johnson

Families of drunk driving victims fight possible new Utah liquor license legislation

The bill sponsored by Rep. Jefferson Burton would increase the number of liquor licenses issued by the state of Utah.

1 day ago

FILE: Tech workers are feeling a decline in on-the-job happiness according to a new survey. (Getty ...

Tammy Kikuchi

Tech workers report declining job happiness

Tech workers and those in the construction industry are on opposite sides of the a survey on job happiness.

1 day ago

The Federal Trade Commission sued to block a proposed merger between grocery giants Kroger and Albe...

DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Business Writer

US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons

The FTC says the $24.6 billion Kroger Albertsons merger would eliminate competition and lead to higher prices for millions of Americans.

1 day ago

pay gap...

Curt Gresseth

Why is the gender pay gap not closing?

The gender pay gap in the U.S. and Utah is not closing. A Utah financial planner details the impact that wage shortfall can have on a women workers over a career.

4 days ago

Henry Barlow said his new plant will save eight million gallons of water a year. (Mark Wetzel, KSL ...


‘We are going to feed American beef to the Americans’: Meat packing plant to open in Richfield

A new cattle processing plant in central Utah is expected to improve the state’s food supply chain.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Utah families: The key to economic success and the challenges ahead