Can Programs Change Marriage Outcomes: A Systematic Review of the Impact of Marriage and Relationship Programs

Matthew Stagner, Urban Institute
Jane Reardon-Anderson, Urban Institute
Jennifer Ehrle, Urban Institute
Katherine Kortenkamp, Urban Institute
Sara Bernstein, Urban Institute

Given changes in past decades in marriage, divorce, and single-parenthood rates, policymakers want to understand more about the effectiveness of interventions to improve marriage and prevent divorce, particularly for low-income families. They are poised to provide funding for marriage programs that will assist these families in building and maintaining healthy marriages. This review examines how marriage and relationship programs, defined as programs to improve couples' relationships, affect the quality of those relationships. It expands upon and differs from previous reviews on this topic because it summarizes studies using meta-analytic techniques, includes evaluations of many different types of marriage programs, and is a systematic review. It will include all random and quasi-random assignment studies of programs that focus on relationship enhancement conducted since 1960 that include a control group receiving no treatment. It will create an average effect size of studies on selected outcome measures, such as relationship satisfaction, quality, and communication.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Union Formation and Dissolution and Parents' Living Arrangements