SYG 2000 Montgomery College Skolnick and Skolnick Paper

SYG 2000 Montgomery College Skolnick and Skolnick Paper SYG 2000 Montgomery College Skolnick and Skolnick Paper ORDER NOW FOR CUSTOMIZED AND ORIGINAL NURSING PAPERS Unformatted Attachment Preview Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents Research Brief Paul R. Amato Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents The United States federal government releases data (which began in the 1940s), is a monthly survey of on rates of marriage and divorce in most years, along about 50,000 households conducted by the U.S. Cen- with information on the percentage of children living sus Bureau for the Department of Labor Bureau of with two parents and single parents. Stories based Labor Statistics. The March supplement to this survey on these statistics often appear in the media. Many contains questions on marital status and other family people, however, are confused by these data—how characteristics. During the last decade, the American these numbers should be interpreted and what they Community Survey (ACS), which is conducted by mean for trends in family life. The goal of this Re- the U.S. Census Bureau, has become an especially search Brief is to help people understand how these important data source. Each year the ACS samples various rates and statistics are calculated and should about three million households in the United States. be interpreted. The recent addition of questions on marriage and divorce makes the ACS one of the main sources of Data on family statistics come from two primary information on current rates of marriage and divorce. sources: vital statistics and surveys. Total counts of marriages and divorces are reported by state and county offices to the federal government and are summarized in publications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Funding for the collection and publication of detailed marriage and divorce statistics was suspended in January 1996 and, as a result, some states no longer report this information. Consequently, surveys have become increasingly important to fill in the gaps from incomplete vital statistics data. One important data source, the Current Population Survey Data on family statistics come from two primary sources: vital statistics and surveys. Total counts of marriages and divorces are reported by state and county offices to the federal government and are summarized in publications from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Divorce Rates As noted earlier, federal funding for the collection and publication of detailed marriage and divorce statistics was suspended in 1996. As a result, several states do not submit vital statistics on divorce on a regular basis. For example, in 2004, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, and Louisiana did not report this information. For this reason, there is no complete count of how many divorces occur in the United States annually. Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents 2 Despite this limitation, the U.S. Census Bureau uses A better measure—the refined divorce rate—is the data from participating states to calculate the crude di- number of divorces per 1,000 married women. This vorce rate, which is the number of divorces per 1,000 rate is preferable to the crude divorce rate because people in the population. This measure is less than the denominator includes only those people at risk of optimal because the denominator includes children divorce. SYG 2000 Montgomery College Skolnick and Skolnick Paper The federal government has not published in- and single adults who are not at risk of divorce. More- formation on the refined divorce rate for many years. over, the crude divorce rate is affected by the age Nevertheless, in 2008 the annual ACS added a ques- structure of the population. (For example, changes in tion on divorce (and marriage) during the previous the proportion of children in the population will affect year. The addition of this question (which will continue the divorce rate, even if the underlying divorce trend in subsequent surveys) makes it possible to calculate is stable.) And, as noted earlier, the crude divorce rate a refined divorce rate for the United States, including excludes data from states (including large states such states that do not report information on divorce statis- as California) that do not report divorce data to the tics to the federal government. An analysis of this item federal government. indicates that the refined divorce rate ranged from a low of 14.3 in North Dakota to a high of 34.5 in Wash- The U.S. Census Bureau uses data from participating states to calculate the crude divorce rate, which is the number of divorces per 1,000 people in the population. For this reason, the rate does not have a clear interpretation. Moreover, the crude divorce rate is affected by the age structure of the population. ington, DC, with a national average of 19.4 (National Center for Family and Marriage Research, 2010). An advantage of the refined divorce rate is that it has a clear interpretation. That is, dividing the rate by 10 yields the percentage of marriages that end in divorce every year. Currently, this figure is about 2%. A possible limitation of relying on the ACS is that surveys (in general) appear to underestimate the frequency of divorce when compared with vital statistics (Martin and Bumpass, 1989). When the federal government releases vital divorce statistics for 2008, it should be Nevertheless, the crude divorce rate provides a rough possible to assess the extent and importance of indication of changes in divorce over time. For exam- any bias. ple, the rate rose from 2.2 in 1960 to 5.3 in 1981—a 141% increase. The rate then dropped gradually to 3.6 in 2007—a 32% decline (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010, Table 78). A study by Heaton (2002) found that the rise in age at first marriage since the 1980s and, to a lesser extent, increased education appear to be responsible for this decline. An advantage of the crude divorce rate is that it can be compared with rates in other countries. For example, Eurostat publishes an annual yearbook that includes crude divorce rates for all European countries (Eurostat, 2009). A better measure—the refined divorce rate—is the number of divorces per 1,000 married women. This rate is preferable to the crude divorce rate because the denominator includes only those people at risk of divorce. Nevertheless, in 2008 the annual ACS added a question on divorce (and marriage) during the previous year. Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents 3 Although the refined divorce rate is valuable, many A refinement to the cohort method was introduced people want to know the percentage of marriages by Schoen and Canudas-Romo (2006) who incorpo- that eventually end in divorce. To answer this ques- rated timing effects of divorce into their analysis. Their tion, one must adopt a cohort approach. That is, the analysis indicates that the probability of a marriage question can be answered only with respect to a spe- ending in divorce increased linearly throughout the cific marriage cohort (people who married in a given 20th century and reached a plateau in the 1990s, with year or set of adjacent years). People who married the most recent estimate (for the year 2000) indicat- in 1990, for example, may have a different lifetime ing that 45% of marriages would end in divorce. If we probability of divorce than people who married in take into account the fact that a small percentage of 2000. Because the refined divorce rate is a period marriages end in permanent separation rather than rate (based on the number of divorces in a particular divorce, then the overall rate of union disruption is year across different cohorts), it cannot answer this slightly less than 50%. SYG 2000 Montgomery College Skolnick and Skolnick Paper In other words, the commonly question. Consider couples who married in 1970. By cited statistic that about half of all marriages end in using a cohort approach and collecting retrospec- disruption (divorce or permanent separation) appears tive marital history data in 2010, the percentage of to be reasonably accurate. these unions that had ended in divorce within the first 40 years of marriage could be calculated. (After It is important to note that these estimates are not 40 years, the likelihood of divorce is small.) A limita- based on the ratio of divorces to marriages in a given tion of the cohort approach arises when it is applied year—a common misconception. Currently there are to recent marriages. For example, for couples who about two marriages for every divorce. One cannot married in 1990, information is only available on the use this information to calculate the probability of di- first 20 years of marriage. The problem of incomplete vorce, however, because the population of individuals information becomes more challenging when even who marry in a given year differs from the population more recent marriages are considered. of individuals who divorce in a given year. Conse- To account for this limitation, projections about the percentage of recent marriages that are likely to end in divorce must be made based on current trends. Demographers use life table methods to reflect outcomes for a synthetic cohort of people who experience duration-specific divorce risks in a given year. That is, they examine the percentage of people married for one year who divorced in the previous year, the percentage of people married for two years quently, the ratio of divorces to marriages provides no information about the eventual likelihood of dissolution for any marriage cohort. Marriage Rates Comparable to the crude divorce rate, the crude marriage rate is the number of marriages in a given year per 1,000 people in the population. The crude marriage rate in the United States rose from 8.5 in 1960 who divorced in the previous year, and so on. These to a high of 10.6 in the early 1980s. Since then, this duration-specific rates are combined through life table rate has dropped to 7.3 in 2007—a 31% decline (U.S. methods to yield the cumulative proportion of couples Census Bureau, 2010, Table 78). Like the crude projected to divorce. These estimates show what the divorce rate, the crude marriage rate has important likelihood of divorce would be if the duration-specific limitations. First, because the denominator includes rates of divorce in a given year were to remain un- people who are not “at risk” of getting married (such changed into the future. as children and already married individuals), this Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents 4 figure does not have a clear interpretation. Second, second limitation is that prior to 2007, the Census Bu- the crude marriage rate does not provide informa- reau defined a single parent as an unmarried parent, tion on the percentage of Americans who eventually irrespective of whether the parent was living with the will marry. Using a cohort perspective (as described other biological parent. In other words, a child living earlier), demographers project that the percentage with a biological mother and a biological father was of adults who eventually will marry is close to 90% counted as living with a single parent if the child’s par- (Cherlin, 2009). This percentage represents a decline ents were not married. Consequently, prior to 2007, from several decades ago, when the projected figure official reports of the percentage of children living with was 95%. Nevertheless, this decline is not nearly as a “single parent” underestimated the percentage of steep as the decline suggested by the crude marriage children living with two biological parents. This was rate. The rising age at first marriage accounts for this a growing problem because most of the increase in apparent discrepancy. Because young adults are nonmarital births during the last couple of decades delaying marriage until older ages, the crude mar- has been due to the rise in the number of children riage rate has been declining. But because the great born to cohabiting but unmarried couples (Bumpass majority of young adults eventually marry (albeit at and Lu, 2000). older ages), the overall level of marriage has declined much less dramatically. The Percentage of Children Living with Single Parents To rectify the latter problem, the Census Bureau changed its definitions in 2007, so that children living with two biological but unmarried parents were counted as living in two-parent households. Due to Every year the U.S. Census Bureau publishes this redefinition, the percentage of children reported information on the percentage of children living with to be living with two parents increased from 67% to two parents, single mothers, single fathers, and 71% between 2005 and 2007. More recent data, neither parent. For example in 2005, 67% of children which also includes information on stepparents, lived with two parents, 23% lived with single moth- provides a more complete picture of children’s living ers, 5% lived with single fathers, and 5% lived with arrangements. The 2009 Current Population Survey neither parent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010, table 69). (March) indicated that 69.8% of children lived with two Comparing these data with earlier years indicates that parents, 62.5% of children lived with two biological the percentage of children living with a single parent parents, and 59.7% lived with two married biological has increased substantially since 1960. Most of this parents (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Corresponding- information comes from the March supplement to the ly, 26.2% of children lived with a single parent. In ad- Current Population Survey. dition to the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey will provide annual information on Until recently, these data had two major limitations. The first limitation is that the “two parent” category this topic into the foreseeable future. included two biological (or adoptive) parents as well Conclusion as one biological parent living with a stepparent. SYG 2000 Montgomery College Skolnick and Skolnick Paper The federal government and social scientists have Consequently, the percentage of children living with generated a great deal of information on rates of mar- two parents is larger than the percentage of children riage, divorce, and single parenthood. Much of this living with two biological (or adoptive) parents. The information, however, is difficult for the typical observ- Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents 5 er to interpret, and a good deal of confusion appears to exist among the general public. Some of the major References Bumpass, Larry, and Hsien-Hen Lu. (2000). Trends in sources of confusion include: cohabitation and implications for children’s (1) It is unclear how divorce and marriage rates are family contexts in the United States. Population calculated and how they should be interpreted. (2) Confounding annual period rates (which reflect the number of marriages and divorces in a particular year) with cohort projections (which reflect the lifetime Studies, 54, 29-41. Cherlin, Andrew. (2009). The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Eurostat. (2009). Europe in Figures: Eurostat Yearbook probabilities of marriage and divorce for individuals 2009. Luxembourg: Office for Official born in particular years) has led to the erroneous con- tions of the European Communities. clusion that the probabilities of marriage and divorce have declined dramatically in recent decades. (3) Misinterpreting federal data on the percentage of children living with two parents, which (until recently) counted stepfamilies as two-parent families and co- Publica- (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-CD-09-001/EN/KS-CD-09-001-EN.PDF) Heaton, T. B. (2002). Factors contributing to increasing marital stability in the United States. Journal of Family Issues, 23, 392-409. Martin, Teresa Castro and Larry L. Bumpass. (1989). habiting couples with biological children as single-par- Recent trends in marital disruption. Demography, ent families. This confusion has led to either over or 26, 37-51. under estimates of the percentage of children residing with two biological parents. The goal of this Research Brief has been to facilitate the interpretation of data on marriage, divorce, National Center for Family and Marriage Research. (2010). Divorce Rate in the U.S., 2008. (http://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/family_%20marriage_lit/Family%20Profiles/Divorce%20in%20US_2008.pdf) Schoen, R., Canudas-Romo, V. (2006). Timing effects on divorce: 20th century experience in the and single parenthood. Despite the fact that the United States. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, federal government withdrew financial support for 749-758. the compilation of vital statistics on marriage and divorce several years ago, recent improvements to the American Community Survey, combined with new information available from other federally funded national surveys, should make it possible to accurately monitor future trends in marriage, divorce, and single U.S. Census Bureau (2009). Current Population Survey, 2009 Annual Social and Economic Supplement. (http://www.census.gov/population/ www/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2009.html) U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010 (129th Edition) Washington, DC. (http://www.census.gov/statab/www/) parenthood. Interpreting Divorce Rates, Marriage Rates, and Data on the Percentage of Children with Single Parents 6 … Purchase answer to see full attachment. 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