Peace through victory - the American way.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Marriage And Family Households Hype.

This story (here) from the French news service AFP was one of the most viewed stories on Yahoo for several days starting this weekend. The story argues that family demography shows that marriage is on the decline in the United States and is rivaled by unmarried couples, both straight and gay.

Certainly family demographics are changing but the AFP story seems to have seriously overstated the change by misreading the data. The AFP story says,
"The findings, which were released in August but largely escaped public attention until now because of the large volume of data, indicated that marriage did not figure in nearly 55.8 million American family households, or 50.2 percent.

More than 14 million of them were headed by single women, another five million by single men, while 36.7 million belonged to a category described as "nonfamily households," a term that experts said referred primarily to gay or heterosexual couples cohabiting out of formal wedlock.

In addition, there were more than 30 million unmarried men and women living alone, who are not categorized as families, the Census Bureau reported.

By comparison, the number of traditional households with married couples at their core stood at slightly more than 55.2 million, or 49.8 percent of the total."
The great thing about the internet is that facts like this can be checked by going to the source document. (Here.) The source document in this case shows that the AFP story seriously overstated the case for the decline of married households and rise of unmarried couples living together, whether straight or gay.

The Census Bureau's document reveals there are only about 6 million unmarried couples living together in the United States not 36 million. Compared to these 6 million unmarried couple households, there are 30 million households with one person living alone and 55 million married couple households. There are an additional 19 million households headed by a single parent.

The AFP story uses the study to make an argument that the Bush Administration's domestic policy promoting traditional family values and marriage is failing. It's not clear how 55 million married households compared to 6 million unmarried couple households supports that contention. This is especially true when one looks at this page (here) of the Census Bureau's study which shows that out of 227 million adults over 15 years of age, 121 million are married now, and of the rest only 63 million have never been married. For a less tendentious news report on the Census Bureau's findings go here. The AFP story proves once again that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.




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