Are State Marriage Initiatives Having an Eff ect ?An Initial Exploration of the Impact on Divorce and Childhood Poverty Rates

Authors

  • Kenneth Kickham,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Central Oklahoma
      Kenneth Kickham is an assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Central Oklahoma. His teaching and research interests focus on public administration and social policy, particularly welfare reform and related issues. He spent several years in state government as a program evaluator, and recently served as president of the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics.
      E-mail:kkickham@uco.edu
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  • David A. Ford

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Central Oklahoma
      David A. Ford is a professor of sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology/Criminal Justice and Substance Abuse Studies. He has been in higher education for over thirty years. His research interests have been eclectic and include several years as a consultant and program evaluator doing applied research for a private non-profit working in the areas of substance abuse prevention and neighborhood coalition building. This is his fi rst foray into public administration research.
      E-mail:daford@uco.edu
    Search for more papers by this author

Kenneth Kickham is an assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Central Oklahoma. His teaching and research interests focus on public administration and social policy, particularly welfare reform and related issues. He spent several years in state government as a program evaluator, and recently served as president of the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics.
E-mail:kkickham@uco.edu

David A. Ford is a professor of sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology/Criminal Justice and Substance Abuse Studies. He has been in higher education for over thirty years. His research interests have been eclectic and include several years as a consultant and program evaluator doing applied research for a private non-profit working in the areas of substance abuse prevention and neighborhood coalition building. This is his fi rst foray into public administration research.
E-mail:daford@uco.edu

Abstract

The central question addressed by this article is the effect of state-level marriage initiatives on divorce and childhood poverty rates. State divorce rates have been problematic for researchers because of variation across states in the way they are compiled. This research takes a different approach, measuring instead the prevalence of divorce rather than the number of divorces granted in a given state or year. The authors use this indicator, derived from Current Population Survey data, as an outcome measure in a test of marriage initiatives, and as an independent variable in a childhood poverty analysis. The quasi-experimental design employs time-series and cross-section regression analysis. Results show a significant negative effect from marriage initiatives on divorce prevalence, and a significant positive association between divorce prevalence and childhood poverty rates.

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