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Fact Check: Santorum claims it's cheaper to be single, but is it?

GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa -- Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum claimed here there are incentives to remain single, and ramped up his rhetoric on the importance of family.

"At the time of the birth of the child of a mother having a child out of wedlock, 90% of the mothers are in a relationship with the father,” Santorum said, citing a Princeton University professor. Within a year after birth, he adds, “10% are in a relationship.”

"We shouldn't have incentives for people not to be married,” the former Pennsylvania senator continued. Santorum, who remains low in national polls, added that he also believes couples choose to cohabitate rather than marry, because it is cheaper.

But, as MSN Money reports: "The reality is that marriage has plenty of legal and financial benefits, including tax benefits. Even before Congress changed tax rules in 2001 to deal with the so-called marriage penalty, more married couples got a tax bonus from being married than paid a tax penalty."

He also told the group gathered at a Johnny Ray’s restaurant here: “Only 6% of families where there's a mom and dad and the children in the home are below the poverty line. The percentage of single-parent families below the poverty line is 32%.”

These numbers are slightly off. According to Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty, 5% of married family households were poor at some point during the past 12 months as opposed to 28.8% of single-parent family households.

Just over half of the U.S. population will experience at least one spell of poverty before they reach the age of 65, the center also finds.

Of course, the poverty figures could be the result of sheer mathematics, rather than values. Households today are more dependent on two incomes than a generation ago. When there aren't two incomes to draw from, it stands to reason that more would be in poverty. Even if a two-parent household relies just on one income, there is less strain on child care, for example.

Speaking of poverty, MSN Money writes, "The people who faced the most egregious penalties, as a portion of their income, were the working poor."

"We need to strengthen the family," said Santorum, wearing a wristband with the acronym F.A.M.I.L.Y on it. It stands for: “Forget About Me, I Love You.”

"We need to have a president who goes out and talks about the importance of marriage, the importance of fathers being committed to their children, the importance of moral values in this country," Santorum, author of “It Takes a Family,” said. 

He also said he believes increasing marriage will boost the economy.

"You don't talk about the family, you don't talk about strong marriages and mothers and fathers helping to raise children, you can't have a strong economy," Santorum said.