Across America fewer people are getting married and yet more are having children outside of marriage. It’s a statistic that some states within America are trying to – carefully – reverse.
In Oklahoma, a ‘Marriage Initiative’ has been running for over ten years with the primary purpose of promoting the concept of marriage. Whilst the initiative is careful to state they aren’t trying to make people get married, they are keen to make sure people understand the benefits of marriage.
And it would seem that to some extent the initiative is pushing against an open door. Since its inception, over 300,000 people have attended their workshops. Moreover, a recent survey* of American adults who had never married, showed that the majority (61%) did want to be married and only 12% did not. And yet, the reality remains that only half of US adults are currently married.
The Oklahoma marriage initiative is one of seven other federally funded programmes across the US that are trying to help those who have the desire to marry, to take the next step. The government has an interest in marriage rates not just from the societal perspective but statistically, married couples contribute more to the economy and require less government support.
Some critics have questioned whether the initiatives have any real effect upon a couple’s likelihood to stay together and ultimately marry. All eight initiatives were studied over a period of three years in order to gain some evidence. Of all eight, only the couples who attended the Oklamhoma initiative showed higher chances of staying together. The other seven initiatives appeared to have little impact compared to couples who had never attended. Not a resounding endorsement but perhaps some cross-learning from the Oklahoma initiate could see the US government begin to turn the tide on unmarried couples.
*Statistics originally reported in The Economist.