Findings from social science research and marriage education are cited in this report to examine the government's role in supporting healthy marriages for the benefit of children. The analysis considers reasons for public policies that address marriage issues and the elements of effective marriage policy. Studies have indicated that law and public policies about marriage reduce the risk of juvenile delinquency, child abuse, parental mental health problems, and economic stress, which can result in significant societal and monetary costs. The authors suggest that public policies seek to preserve low-conflict marriages of parents to provide stability for children. Such policies should focus on decreasing pregnancy among unmarried couples, as well as preventing violence and reducing the incidence of divorce. Strategies include clearly defining marriage, considering married couples as one unit for legal and financial purposes, promoting values about acceptable behavior of married people, and reinforcing the benefits of marriage in teen pregnancy prevention programs. Tax exemptions for children and job training for low-income married fathers will help to achieve objectives in support of marriage.
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Can government strengthen marriage? : evidence from the social sciences / National Fatherhood Initiative, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Institute for American Values.