State of Our Unions

The State of Our Unions monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America. Produced annually, it is a joint publication of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.

2009 Version of unions pdf in its entiretyPDF of entire 2009 Unions

EDITOR W. Bradford Wilcox
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Elizabeth Marquardt
FOUNDING CO-EDITORS David Popenoe & Barbara Dafoe Whitehead



Introduction w. bradford wilcox & elizabeth marquardt

A decade ago, David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead published the first The State of Our Unions, offering trenchant commentary on the state of marriage and family life in the United States and compelling statistical indicators tracking “the social health of marriage in America.”

Social Indicators of
Marital Health and Wellbeing:





Loss of Child Centeredness

Fragile Families with Children

Teen Attitudes About Marriage and Family

The Great Recession’s Silver Lining?
W. Bradford Wilcox

The 2009 edition of The State of Our Unions makes clear that money matters for marriage. Income, employment, debt, assets, and the division of household labor all shape the quality and stability of married life in the United States. In other words, earning, spending, saving, and sharing money are integral dimensions of contemporary married life.

Bank On It: Thrifty Couples are the Happiest
Jeffrey Dew

New research indicates that conflict over money matters predicts divorce better than other types of disagreement. Compared with disagreements over other topics, financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands.

Marriage and the Great Recession Alex Roberts

Will the economic downturn strengthen or weaken marriage? Both marriage and divorce rates tend to fall when the economy heads south and then rise when good times return. However, the changing meaning and role of marriage in modern society has weakened this economy-family relationship in recent decades.

The Smart Money: She Saves, He Spends
Ronald T. Wilcox

Recent research in evolutionary psychology, sociology, and finance suggests that many couples may be organizing their financial management in a way that does not maximize their economic well-being.

A Feminist-Friendly Recession? Christine B. Whelan

The Great Recession’s silver lining of increasing gender flexibility and equality is more likely to apply to better educated and younger Americans than to less educated older Americans. That is, young adults with a college education have the best chance of adapting to the recession’s gender revolution.