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The National Marriage Project was founded in 1997 by Rutgers University Sociology Professor David Popenoe. From 1997 to the summer of 2009, it was housed at Rutgers University and was directed by Drs. Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. In the summer of 2009, the National Marriage Project moved to the University of Virginia, where it is now directed by W. Bradford Wilcox, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.


The National Marriage Project (NMP) is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, and interdisciplinary initiative located at the University of Virginia. The Project’s mission is to provide research and analysis on the health of marriage in America, to analyze the social and cultural forces shaping contemporary marriage, and to identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability. Pursuant to its mission, the NMP has five goals:

  1. Publish The State of Our Unions, which monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America;
  2. Investigate and report on the state of marriage among young adults;
  3. Provide accurate information and analysis regarding marriage to journalists, policy makers, religious leaders, and the general public—especially young adults;
  4. Conduct research on the ways in which children, race, class, immigration, ethnicity, religion, and poverty shape the quality and stability of contemporary marriage; and
  5. Bring marriage and family experts together to develop strategies for strengthening marriage.

The NMP conducts research, sponsors conferences, and public lectures at the University of Virginia, publishes reports, books and articles by family scholars, and makes its findings available to the broader public through its web site, media outreach, and publications.

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