A published report says that President Bush is likely to present a $1.5 billion marriage promotion plan during the annual State of the Union address next week. Johns Hopkins University sociologist and expert on family issues Andrew Cherlin is familiar with the plan and has recently written an article for Contexts magazine that provides an overview of the issue. The article is available at www.contextsmagazine.org/content_sample_v2-4.php.
"All previous marriage promotion programs have been aimed at people in the middle class — couples who are educated and have a higher level of verbal fluency," Cherlin said. "These programs relied on the couple being able to answer a battery of questions and to relate to their partner's abstract issues and concerns, a format that may not be as successful in lower income brackets, where people aren't as educated and may be immigrants who do not speak or read English very well," he said.
Nevertheless, Cherlin said, the consultants the administration has hired so far are focusing on the most promising families: young couples who have just had a child and wish to marry. "A lot of mothers are giving birth outside of marriage and living with the fathers," Cherlin said. "Many of those women would like to marry, but they don't. So marriage promotion programs for that situation, although untested, are the best place to start."
Research has shown that biological families are the most likely to benefit children in the long run. "A child whose mother marries a new partner, introducing a step-parent, does not do any better than if he had remained a child of a single parent," Cherlin said. To speak with Cherlin, contact Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960.
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