This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tell the Census Bureau NOT to Drop Marital Status Questions from the ACS

A few days ago, the U.S. Census Bureau surprised the demographic world by announcing that they were thinking of dropping several questions about marital status from the American Community Survey (ACS). Are they nuts? Families and households are key elements of every society, and we need to have these data. It was bad enough that the Centers for Disease Control stopped tabulating data on marriages and divorces years ago. This has left the American Community Survey as the major source of demographic data on the changing patterns of marriage, divorce, and widowhood. They propose to delete the following questions:
Person Question No. 21a—Get Married—In the past 12 months did this person get—Married?
Person Question No. 21b—Get Widowed—In the past 12 months did this person get—Widowed?
Person Question No. 21c—Get Divorced—In the past 12 months did this person get—Divorced?Show citation box
Person Question No. 22—Times Married—How many times has this person been married?
Person Question No. 23—Year Last Married —In what year did this person last get married?
They also want to drop the question about the undergraduate field of study:
Person Question No. 12—Undergraduate Field of Degree—This question focuses on this person's Bachelor's Degree. Please print below the specific major(s) of any Bachelor's Degrees this person has received.
This is ridiculous. Let your voice be heard by sending a note to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce:

If you aren't quite sure what to say, Steve Ruggles (incoming President of the Population Association of America) has some talking points on the website of the Minnesota Population Center:

To their list you might add the fact that the purpose of dropping these questions from the ACS is to save paperwork. Yet, the Census Bureau is already advertising on its website the fact that respondents to the ACS can respond online--that should already have taken care of a lot of paperwork issues.

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