Friday, August 26, 2011

Marriage and Divorce: The Numbers

You would think that a nation so heatedly debating who has a right to marry and who doesn't would keep very good records of who is marrying and who isn't. But you would be wrong. The federal government stopped collecting data from the states on the incidence of marriage and divorce in 1996. We have been flying blind since then and talking heads have filled the vacuum.

Until now. Yesterday, the Census Bureau released the first of what should be annual survey-based estimates of marriage and divorce from the American Community Survey. These releases will provide marriage, divorce, and widowhood rates for men and women by state (highest rate of divorce is in the South--by far; highest rate of marriage is in the West): and profile the demographic characteristics of people who are marrying or divorcing.

Who is marrying? Among the 2.2 million women who married in 2009, the largest share (38 percent) had a bachelor's degree or more education. The 39 percent plurality had a household income of $75,000 or more. The 69 percent majority were employed. Fifty-two percent were homeowners, and 63 percent lived in single-family homes. Bottom line: marriage has become an upscale event, with the educated and affluent most likely to tie the knot.

Source: Census Bureau: Marital Events of Americans: 2009

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