Previous research has documented the effects of divorce on children, families, communities, taxpayers, and society. Accordingly, local, state, and national governments have enacted policies aimed at strengthening marriages and reducing divorce. Currently, ten states have enacted some form of premarital education promotion policy. However, no research has documented whether the implementation of premarital education promotion policies has actually decreased the divorce rate in implementing states. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to investigate empirically the effectiveness of premarital education policy implementation on reducing early divorce rates. Prior to running any empirical analyses, an implementation study was conducted to understand how effectively each state implemented the premarital education promotion policy. A combination of methods was used for this study including reviewing the legislative documents, reviewing archival records, as well as interviewing academics and key persons associated with the bill. Following the implementation study, an impact study was conducted to analyze the effects of the policies on the divorce rates. Divorce rate data were obtained from NCHS National Vital Statistics Reports (1988-2016). To assess the effects of premarital education policies, difference-in-difference estimation using state fixed effects was employed. The results of the implementation study suggest that while the policies had similarities in their language and intent, the majority of the states had little or no formal oversight and implementation of the policy. Results of the impact study suggest that effectively implementing a policy is significantly associated with a .5% in the divorce rate after controlling for all other variables in the model. I conclude with a discussion of the implementation and impact studies results as well as suggestions for future policy efforts and research



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





premarital education, divorce, marriage, public policy