Census Marriage and Divorce Details
Special Report - August 26, 2011
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released new state and national data that provide a more detailed picture of the characteristics of marriage and divorce in the United States. Included in the study were comparisons of marriage and divorce rates in various regions of the country. The Census Bureau describes the August 2011 report, “Marital Events of Americans, 2009,” as the “first of its kind to describe the detailed characteristics of marital events among Americans ages 15 and older based on the 2009 American Community Survey [ACS].” The ACS survey began including questions about marriage and divorce events in 2008, according to the Census Bureau.
Among the report’s key findings is that divorce rates for both men and women tend to be higher in the South than in the rest of the nation, but lower in the Northeast, mainly because the South also tends to have higher marriage rates for both men and women, while the Northeast tends to have the lowest marriage rates (see Table 1). For example, the Census report shows that in the South, men had a divorce rate of 10.2 per 1,000, and women had a divorce rate of 11.1 per 1,000, compared to the national divorce rate of 9.2 for men and 9.7 for women. In the Northeast, the divorce rate was 7.2 for men and 7.5 for women in 2009, the lowest in the nation. However, the South also has a marriage rate of 20.3 for men and 18.6 for women, which is higher than both the national marriage rate for men and women (19.1 and 17.6, respectively), and the marriage rate for men and women in the Northeast (16.0 and 14.0 respectively).
While North Carolina, like many Southern states, had a slightly higher divorce rate than the national average in 2009 of 9.9 for men and 10.3 for women, it also boasts a higher marriage rate than the national average (20.4 for men and 19.0 for women in North Carolina, versus 19.1 and 17.6, respectively, for the nation).
The Census Bureau report also includes detailed information about the children of divorce, who accounted for 1.5 percent of all children in the nation in 2009. According to the report, compared to other children, those children living with a divorced parent in 2009 were more likely to:
- Live with their mother than their father (75 percent with their mother versus 25 percent with their father);
- Live in poverty (28 percent of children with a recently divorced parent versus 19 percent of other children);
- Live with their parents’ unmarried partner (13 percent of children with a recently divorced parent versus seven percent of other children).
The report’s finding regarding children of divorce being more likely to live with their divorced parent’s unmarried partner is consistent with the findings of a report from a group of family scholars released earlier this month. The report, “Why Marriage Matters: 30 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” found that rising rates of cohabitation in the U.S. are contributing to family instability, with more children today spending time in a cohabiting household than in a divorced family. The report noted that 20 percent of all children will spend some time in a cohabiting household, often as a result of the divorce of their parents.
Cohabitation Linked to Unstable Families - August 17, 2011
Census Report Examines Cohabitation - November 9, 2010
Marriage Beats Cohabitation - March 5, 2010
Most Children Live With Parents - July 27, 2010
Characteristics of Cohabiting Adults Studied - July 16, 2009
Report Analyzes Cohabitation Effects - June 23, 2008
How Cohabitation Undermines Marriage and the Family - Findings - June 2005
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