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Marriage in the United States: A critical literature review and scale development of new assessment measures

9 December 2005


The number of women choosing to marry in the United States has ,been dramatically declining for the last 50 years. To combat this decline, programs have been developed to promote marriage within this country. To date, however, there is no clear evidence that marriage is beneficial to all people in all situations. In fact, marriage rates and attitudes about marriage vary based on age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The following paper examines current research on marriage, marital attitudes, possible and perceived benefits of marriage, and the marital decision making process in the United States. Based on the critical literature review, it was noted that four theories have been developed to help explain why marriage rates in the United States have dropped, specifically among African American women. These four theories are the (1) lack of potential mates theory, (2) economic disincentives theory, (3) impact of societal trend theory, and (4) lack of desire for marriage theory. In addition, to theoretical explanations, other variables may be influential in determining marital attitudes and rates of marriage. For example, family satisfaction is an important variable that has an impact on marital attitudes. Furthermore, it is also important to determine what factors are important before the decision to marry is made. Based on the review of the literature, two additional assessment devices were developed to assess for both family satisfaction and factors that affect the marital decision making process. These measures will hopefully pave the way for future research on marriage in the United States.


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