Are Government‐Supported Healthy Marriage Initiatives Affecting Family Demographics? A State‐Level Analysis


family life education, marriage and relationship education, poverty, public policy


This study assesses whether government‐supported Healthy Marriage Initiatives (HMIs)—educational programs to help couples form and sustain healthy marriages and relationships—have had a measurable impact on population‐level family outcomes. We compiled data on funding for these initiatives between 2000 and 2010 and aggregated these data to the state level for each year. We employed pooled time‐series regression with fixed state and year effects to estimate the effects of funding on population‐level outcomes taken from the American Community Survey. Cumulative per capita funding for HMIs between 2005 and 2010 was positively associated with small changes in the percentage of married adults in the population and children living with two parents, and it was negatively associated with the percentage of children living with one parent, nonmarital births, and children living in poverty. These results were diminished, however, when an influential outlier—Washington, DC—was removed from the analysis. Interpretations and implications of these findings are discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Hawkins, A. J., Amato, P. R., & Kinghorn, A. (2013). Are government-supported healthy marriage initiatives affecting family demographics? A state-level analysis. Family Relations, 62, 501-513.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Family Relations




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor