Does Relationship and Marriage Education for Lower-Income Couples Work? A Meta-Analytic Study of Emerging Research


couple education, marriage education, low-income couples, high-risk couples, meta-analysis


While a large number of studies have documented how couple education programs can strengthen couple relationships, few studies have tested these programs on lower-income, higher-risk couples. Yet over the past decade, state and federal governments have been experimenting with supporting couple education programs designed to help lower-income couples form and sustain healthy marriages and relationships. This article reports the findings of a meta-analytic study of the effectiveness of couple education targeted to lower-income couples. We examined evaluation data from 15 programs and found small-to-moderate effects. For the three control-group studies, we found the overall effect of these programs was d = .250 (p < .05). For the 12 one-group/pre-post studies, we found the overall effect was d = .293 (p < .001). These effects are relatively similar to those found for MRE studies with middle-income participants and for studies of other family-support educational programs. Implications for couple educators are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Hawkins, A. J., & Fackrell, T. A. (2010). Does relationship and marriage education for lower-income couples work? A meta-analysis of emerging research. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy. 9, 181-191.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor