Assessment of Survey Data for the Analysis of Marriage and Divorce at the National, State, and Local Levels
The Urban Institute, September 2008
46 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2013 Last revised: 3 Feb 2013
Date Written: 2008
This report examines the feasibility and potential benefits of using existing survey data sets to provide reliable, timely information on marriage and divorce. It assesses the ability of a variety of data sets to produce marriage and divorce statistics at the national, state, and local levels. The main criterion is whether the existing survey data sets provide or can be modified to provide information on marriage and divorce rates, as was collected under the vital statistics system.
To identify survey data sets that have the greatest potential for collecting marriage and divorce statistics, the research team established five evaluation criteria. These criteria are used to assess the surveys’ overall relevance and potential for providing marriage and divorce rates over time. The criteria are: (1) relevancy — survey data can be used to calculate marriage and divorce rates, (2) reliability — survey design is likely to provide estimates of marriage and divorce rates that match an external source, (3) representativeness — survey captures broad U.S. population and survey provides state and/or local level estimates, (4) ongoing — survey is planned to continue into foreseeable future, and (5) contains correlates of interest — survey includes correlates and outcomes of interest to research and policy communities. Based on these criteria, three data sets are identified as having the greatest potential for measuring marriage and divorce statistics. These data sets are: 1) The American Community Survey (ACS); 2) The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG); and 3) The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).
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