Every ten years, the federal government conducts a “census,” where it counts every person living in the United States. The constitution mandates that all people
Divorced/Separated Population: The percentage of the population over the age of 15 who is divorced or separated
Married Population:* The percentage of the population over the age of 15 who is currently married (not including those who are separated)
Never-Married Population: The percentage of the population over the age of 15 who has never been married or who has been in a marriage that has been annulled
Widowed Population: The percentage of the population over the age of 15 whose marriage was ended by the death of a spouse and who have not entered into a new marriage
*starting in 2013, same-sex couples are included in this variable
American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year estimates, Table B12001
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19).
Why are these variables important to measure?
Marital status is used to determine eligibility for various government programs, and understanding marital changes over time provides greater insight into the changing arrangement and relationships of families.
The category of separated includes people who are legally separated, those who have been deserted, are absent from their spouse due to marital discord, and those who no longer wish to live together, but do not yet have a final divorce decree. The category of divorced includes those who are legally divorced but have not entered into a new marriage.
The percentage of the adult population who is married excludes people who are currently separated from their partner, as well as those whose current marriage has ended by widowhood or divorce. Of those who are married, their spouse can be present in the same household, or living in a different household. According to the American Community Survey, beginning in 2013, same-sex married couples are included in the “married spouse present” category.
The percentage of the adult population who has never been married includes both single people and those whose have been in marriages that have been annulled.
The category of widowed includes people whose marriage ended due to the death of a spouse and have not entered into a new marriage.