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Marriage and Welfare Reform: The Overwhelming Evidence That Marriage Education Works.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Fagan, Patrick F.
Patterson, Robert W.
Rector, Robert E.
Corporate Author: 
Heritage Foundation (Washington, D.C.).
Technical Report
Page Count: 

This paper reviews research findings that indicate the effectiveness of marriage education and urges the inclusion of President Bush's marriage initiative in welfare reform legislation. Findings indicate: 29 peer-reviewed social science journal articles that integrate findings from over 100 separate evaluations provide ample evidence that marriage education, training, and counseling programs significantly strengthen marriage; one analysis integrating 85 studies involving nearly 4,000 couples enrolled in more than 20 different marriage enrichment programs found that the average participating couple was better off than more than two-thirds of nonparticipating couples; a 1999 meta-analysis of 16 studies of one of the oldest marriage enhancement programs, Couple Communication, observed meaningful program effects with regard to all types of measures; an analysis of the Relationship Enhancement program shows that it significantly improves marital relationships; a 2002 study documents the effectiveness of premarital inventory questionnaires and counseling in preventing marital distress; a 1993 meta-analysis of marriage and family counseling found that, among 71 studies that compared counseling to no-counseling, couples who took marriage counseling were better off than 70% of nonparticipating couples; and an extensive review of the literature on the effectiveness of marital counseling in preventing separation and divorce found dozens of studies demonstrating that counseling was effective in reducing conflict and increasing marital satisfaction. The role of marriage in welfare reform, liberal opposition to strengthening marriage, and reasons the President's marriage initiative is important are discussed. 43 references.

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