A study done in Canada in 1992 concluded that Canada has set up a tax code which provided incentives for the break-up of families. Probably this was not an intended effect, but it has become an actual effect of the tax code.
According to the study,
In Canada . . . a married couple with three children earning $60,000 per year in 1992 was liable for $17,824 in income taxes if the income came from one worker. But if the husband got a less-demanding job and sent the wife to work, the same income was taxed at only $10,725. If they then got divorced and cohabited, the tax dropped to $7,580. [Angelo Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 163.]It pays never to forget that at root Economic Man--the drive to get a good bargain in all economic exchanges--is represented prodigiously throughout the population. Without thinking of the long term consequences, if it seems a good deal to work less, send the wife out to work, and hey pretso you will be better off by a substantial margin, then let's fill up the biggest shopping trundler we can find with those goodies. More for less. What a deal.
When economic motivations, caused by government policy, run their course, the social impact becomes irreversible. What a government pays for, society gets more of. When governments "pay" more via tax incentives to reward those outside of family structures, the behaviours or actions which qualify for the higher payment increase in number and intensity. It's money for jam.
We have not bothered to do the research, but we hazard a guess that stories similar to Canada's would be found in every Western nation. The family cannot survive the onslaught of economic rationalisation resulting from taxation policies which ignore the special importance of the family to society.
The irony is richer than grandma's custard. Social problems with youth abound in Western countries. Crime, drugs, sexual experimentation, truancy, gangs, and withdrawal from society--to name but a few--lead officials to bemoan the breakdown in family authority, structures, disciplines, and inculcation of life skills. Yet governments are thoroughly complicit insofar as they have promulgated polices which have undermined those very same family structures, authority, and financial strength. They have insouciantly claimed that there are lots of social structures and relationships which can replicate the traditional nuclear family. They have promulgated policies to "prove" it. Then they stand in the public square complaining that families have broken down and are dysfunctional.
If ever there were a time for Christians to assert that the family is a divine institution before it is a human one, it would be now.