The way the divorce rate in America and other official statistics regarding race, birth, trends in health, etc. are reported by the government is very confusing to many. With a little help, you can understand how two of the main reporting agencies, the National Center for Health Statistics and the United States Census Bureau, compile and release data and facts to the public.
Reporting Divorce Rate in America
Two official governmental agencies that compile information regarding the divorce rate in America are the National Center for Health Statistics and the United States Census Bureau. These reports are used by several organizations, including the federal government, when determining how to allocate tax money. They help researchers to better understand the effects of divorce and may perhaps give us insight on how to stop divorce.
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
Sources Used by NCHS
The NCHS uses several sources for compiling reports that list the divorce rate in America. Along with Census Reports, the NCHS also uses these three other sources to compile data:
- Individual state statistics play a vital role in allowing the NCHS to publish reliable statistics. Unfortunately, some states are unable to collect and report information regarding the living arrangements of their citizens. Accordingly, the NCHS reports on divorce statistics do not include information from these states.
- The National Health Interview Surveys are surveys of the general population, used to get an overall view of the country's health and well being. These surveys are not taken of those in hospitals, nursing homes, jails or who are on active duty with the military.
- The National Survey for Family Growth (NSFG) is the tool used by NCHS for determining the divorce rate in America. The sole purpose of the NSFG is to gain information about marriage, divorce, cohabitation, infertility, etc.
Vital Statistic Reports
The NCHS's Vital Statistic Reports are probably the most reliable source for finding current divorce rates in the United States.
Marriage and U.S. Divorce Rate 2003 thru 2005
Below is an overview of marriage and divorce rates in the United States from 2003 through 2005 as reported in the July 26 Provisional Vital Statistic Report. The figures provided are given "per 1000 total population." See the full report to get important information regarding reporting states and other pertinent notes.
Other Reports Released by NCHS
Along with its Vital Statistic Reports, the NCHS routinely issues reports regarding various subjects. Many of its reports are detailed and specific to one subject. For example, in 2004, using information from the NSFG, it released a report titled "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States," which analyzed family trends in 1973, 1976, 1988 and 1995. The NCHS also publishes various forms of data and other reports, which give specifics on a variety of other subjects relating to the health and well being of the country.
United States Census
The United States Census Bureau states that it "serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation's people and economy." It came into existence over 50 years ago and operates under the Department of Commerce. The Census specifically says it does not "[generally] release information on the number of marriages or divorces," but some information regarding divorce is available through its Statistical Abstract of the United States. Understanding how the Census works is important in understanding how divorce statistics are generated. The NCHS uses the data compiled by the Census when creating reports regarding the divorce rate in America and other family trends.
Sources Used by the US Census
One way the Census collects information is through the Current Population Surveys, in which it polls 50,000 people every month. While people over age 15 are interviewed, the published opinions are of interviewees 16 and older and include questions ranging from the participants' age and marital status to what kind of refrigerator he/she has. Another tool it uses for obtaining information about marital status is through data obtained from individual states through the Federal State Cooperative Program for Population Estimates (FSCPE).
Reports Released by the US Census
The US Census publishes extremely detailed reports on a variety of issues every 10 years. It publishes provisional reports in increments, so later, final reports are the most accurate. Final Census reports are usually titled with the year followed by "Census." For example, in January 2007, the most accurate and detailed information available to the public was Census 2000.