Our Marriage Initiative aims to strengthen marriage for all who seek it.

We’ve done more work on this topic than on any other, and many people (not just us) will tell you that IAV is the nation’s leading think tank on marriage and family life.

We’ve been at it a while. In the 1990s, we brought together scholars from across the political spectrum to make the case for strengthening marriage, produced the most influential essay of the decade on the importance of the two-parent home, and wrote books and reports and made speeches and issued appeals on the crisis of fatherlessness. Rejecting the culture-war rhetoric of “family values,” we showed over and over again that family structure matters. This work contributed to a measurable shift in scholarly and public opinion on the role and importance of marriage.

In the 2000s, we helped to create and lead a broadly based “marriage movement.” We brought together diverse scholars to produce a consensus statement of “Why Marriage Matters.” We convened scholars to develop and propose “Leading Marriage Indicators” for the nation. We worked to give voice to those who had previously been unheard, undertaking major investigations of children of divorce and donor-conceived children. We released a series of reports to the nation on topic such as the taxpayer costs of divorce and unwed childbearing, the consequences of marriage for African Americans, the future of family law and principles for family law reform, the roles and attitudes of American mothers, the connections between money and marriage, and the global revolution in the meaning of parenthood.

In recent years our national debate on marriage has been dominated by the issue of gay marriage. The issue has had a big impact on us, and we’ve had a big impact on it.

David Blankenhorn, the Institute’s founder and president, wrote a 2007 book opposing gay marriage; testified as an expert witness in the California “Prop 8” case; searched for common ground with pro-gay marriage leaders; and changed his mind on the gay marriage issue in June of 2012. The impact on the Institute was dramatic.

Amidst these changes and struggles, our mission regarding marriage remains the same – to renew and strengthen the institution.

In March of 2013, we released A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage, signed by 75 scholars and leaders. You can read the Call. You can also read the New York Times story on the Call. To see how this project continued to unfold, you can read David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch’s op-ed in the NY Daily News, read David and Jonathan’s dialogue in the Huffington Post, read David Blankenhorn’s op-ed in the LA Times, and listen to David interview the author and psychologist Jonathan Haidt on “Can We Bet Beyond the Marriage Culture Wars?” (The Haidt conversation is the first in a series.)

In February of 2015, we released Marriage Opportunity: The Moment for National Action, signed by about 100 U.S. scholars and leaders who’ve come together to form a Marriage Opportunity Council. You can learn more about this major initiative here.

A hallmark of our work is collaboration across disciplinary and philosophical lines. Our 2013 book What is Parenthood? brings together diverse scholars who frequently disagree for collaborative engagement on the meaning of parenthood, and our 2013 book Gender and Parenthood brings together scholars from the natural and social sciences to explore the biochemistry and social roles of parenting.

Institute scholars are currently leading a major study of Gen X caregiving and grieving called Homeward Bound: Aging, Death, and Dying in an Era of High Family Fragmentation.

Another result of creative scholarly collaboration is our 2013 report Does the Shape of Faith Shape Families?, which explores the relationship between family structure and religious faith and offers recommendations to houses of worship.

Institute scholars are also proposing a new policy idea for states to reduce unnecessary divorce, and recommending a marriage agenda to President Obama.


Learn more

Read the statement Marriage Opportunity: The Moment for National Action

Learn more

Read the report Mother Bodies, Father Bodies: How Parenthood Changes Us from the Inside Out

Learn more

Listen to David Blankenhorn and Glenn Loury, Sr. and Glenn Loury, Jr. discuss sex, marriage, class, and race.

Learn more

Listen to David Blankenhorn and Larry Mead discuss whether the marriage gap is driving inequality.

In the News

"Homeward Bound" Addresses the End of Life
Donnette Beckett, Herald & Review, 4/3/2017

Ziettlow Sees Work Get Published
Thomas Schreiber, Le Mars (IL) Daily Sentinel, 3/28/2017

Campaign Designed to Encourage Marriage, Reduce Divorce Rates
Cleveland Daily Banner, 2/4/2017

Marriage Is Worth Celebrating
Roger Rollins, Aiken Standard, 1/14/2017

Letter: 12 Years of Promoting Healthy, Sustainable Relationships
Amy M. Gilford, Carroll County Times (Westminster, MD), 12/19/2016


Institute for American Values, 420 Lexington Avenue, Room 300, New York, NY 10170-0399