The Economic Benefits of Marriage and Family Strengthening Programs
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Marriage and family strengthening programs have historically had small magnitude effects on changing relationship outcomes. The present study explores the possibility that although these statistical effects are small, they can be shown to represent meaningful financial impacts. Secondary data from 2092 control and 2042 intervention couples who were married with children and participating in the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) project were analyzed. Intervention participants had the opportunity to receive standardized curricula (e.g., PREP) and marital counseling. Similar to meta-analytic findings, conventional analysis of these data found only a modest impact on proximal relationship outcomes (e.g., satisfaction). Offering counseling in conjunction with curricula, although costlier and only demonstrating marginally significant improvements in averting divorce, appears to offer a substantial financial return on investment. The implications of these findings are discussed.
KeywordsMarriage Programs Return on investment
Preparation of this manuscript was supported through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (90PD0283). The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the Administration for Children and Families. The authors would like to thank anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.
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Conflict of interest
Preparation of this manuscript was supported through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (90PD0283). The opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the Administration for Children and Families. The authors have no other conflicts of interest to report.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. The data source for all analyses was the SHM survey data, housed by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR: Hsueh & Knox et al. 2014). These data were received by the first author under an agreement with ICPSR, where there was an institutional review board (IRB)-approved data monitoring and security plan.
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