Financial stress is the number one cause of marital angst, including divorce. So it may be intuitive to think that any financial assistance that can be achieved would be a benefit to the marriage, including from the government.
Not so, says a new study that reveals couples are significantly less satisfied and committed to their marriages if they receive help from the food stamps, Medicaid or other government assistance programs.
The study produced from the University of Missouri is one of only a few that have researched government assistance and marital quality. Science Daily has more:
"The study confirms that low income does have a negative impact on marital quality, but there are additional factors as well. The relationship between income and marital satisfaction is influenced by other issues, including whether or not the couple receives some form of government assistance," [said David Schramm, assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.]
The study reviewed six aspects of marital quality: overall satisfaction, commitment, divorce proneness, feelings of being trapped in a marriage, and negative interaction. Couples earning $20,000 or less reported lower scores in five of the six categories of marital quality; similar scores were found of those receiving government assistance. And couples that had both lower income and government help had even lower scores in overall satisfaction and commitment:
"It's likely there are pre-existing or co-existing issues that occur in addition to the receipt of government assistance," Schramm said. "Possible explanations for the relationship among income, government assistance and marriage include mental health issues, psychiatric disorders, physical handicaps and substance abuse problems."
Based on the findings and related research, Schramm plans to implement education programs aimed at low-income couples who receive government assistance.
This study was published in Journal of Family and Economic Issues.