We ask questions about whether a person is currently married, widowed, divorced, separated, or never married; whether his/her marital status changed in the past 12 months; and lifetime marriages to create statistics about current marital status and marital history.
Marital status and marital history data help federal agencies understand marriage trends, forecast future needs of programs that have spousal benefits, and measure the effects of policies and programs that focus on the well-being of families, including tax policies and financial assistance programs.
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask four questions that cover information about marital status, changes in marital status, and lifetime marital history.
We compile the results from these questions to provide communities with important statistics to help plan spousal and family assistance programs. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
We ask about how many times you have been married to help federal agencies plan and fund programs with spousal benefits, including veteran and social security programs, and help communities determine where gaps in benefits and services might exist.
We want to know about families, particularly blended and single-parent families, along with data about the presence of children, labor force status, and poverty status, to help communities:
We ask about marital status to help us understand marriage trends (whether people are marrying later in life, not getting married, or marrying again), in combination with information about age, presence of children, income, etc., to help communities understand if the available housing, job training, rental assistance, and administrative services and programs are meeting residents' needs during their major life changes. These data also help the federal government plan for the future. For example, the Social Security Administration estimates future program needs based on the current relationships of working people.
Marital status originated with the 1880 Census, while marital history originated with the 1850 Census. Marital status was transferred to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form, while marital history was added in 2008.