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The divorce of a Utah marriage and the U.S. Census

Marriage has long been touted as the cornerstone of American society, including in Utah. The equation usually goes a strong family helps make strong individuals, which helps make a strong society. Sixty or 70 years ago, when marriage rates were up and divorce rates down, the saying likely meant more than it does today. In today's society, just as many couples divorce as marriage, a ratio that may soon tip in divorce's favor. Part of the reason we know so much about divorce and marriage rates is through the U.S. Census.

Recently, there has been talk of eliminating several questions on the Census that refer to marriage and divorce. After the national center for health statistics stopped collecting marital data in 1996, the U.S. Census became the only place where marital information on a national scale is collected. The questions current position on the chopping block is due in part to congressional actions looking to limit the Census.

The questions that may be cut were only added to the U.S. Census in 2008 after the U.S. Department of Health request they be included. The move to remove the questions is troubling for researchers as the census is the only source for marital data attached to demographic data. It would also make the U.S. the only first-world nation that does not keep track of age-specific marriage and divorce rates. If the questions disappear, so will many statistics on marriage and divorce in the U.S.

Without an accurate accounting of marriage and divorce in the U.S., it will be difficult to see how society is changing with regards to its view of marriage and divorce.

Source: DesertNews.com, "Marriage questions on the U.S. Census Bureau survey are on the chopping block," Kelsey Clark, Dec. 20, 2014

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