Even though marriage and divorce in the United States has been shifting, the vital statistics data infrastructure to accumulate and distribute marriage and divorce data has not kept pace. The deterioration and defunding of the marriage and divorce vital statistics systems means there is limited capacity to understand geographic variation in marriage and divorce. A limitation of the American Community Survey is that it cannot provide a single point estimate of marriage and divorce for all counties or county equivalents, and this is especially problematic in rural areas. There is no central depository of al county-level marriage and divorce data. The call for local area family data and assessments of data quality has come from several constituent groups. To begin to fill this critical gap, we propose to provide a data resource to the research community by generating a 2010 county-level marriage and divorce database. This comprehensive database will ensure inclusion of rural areas. The secondary goals are to analyze change in county-level marriage and divorce from 2000 to 2010, assess the quality of ACS data in counties where county-level data are available, and examine spatial variation in patterns of marriage and divorce by linking additional county level data. This innovative project fits squarely with the PDB mission to enhance knowledge and data availability on families and households. The application is consistent with the purpose of the R03 mechanism and will offer a resource to a multidisciplinary set of researchers.

Public Health Relevance

U.S. families are undergoing dramatic change, but the there is no depository for county-level marriage and divorce data. This project accumulates marriage and divorce counts from all counties and county equivalents and generates a user friendly database. It is imperative that these data are amassed so interstate variation in marriage and divorce can be examined. This project will assess the quality of American Community Survey data and evaluate how contextual factors are tied to changes in marriage and divorce. Of special interest is the influence of the recession on marriage and divorce rates. These data are currently unavailable and extend the value of ongoing collections of county indicators of health, crime, population composition, and economic wellbeing. This work aligns with funding priorities of the NICHD. It will advance research in the social sciences and public health disciplines, especially in the areas of demography and family. Further, state and local stakeholders may use the data to assess stability and change in the geographic concentration of marriage and divorce.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Developmental Biology Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Bures, Regina M
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Bowling Green State University
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Bowling Green
United States
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