Besides reading the tabloids, how do we — the collective American people — know who is getting divorced, and how long they were married? Most of the statistics are gleaned from the American Census Bureau, specifically the American Community Survey, a Census Bureau survey that samples a small percentage of the population every year.
However, the Census Bureau has proposed eliminating several marriage and divorce-related questions on the American Community Survey, putting them in the "low benefit and low cost category." That would be a mistake, according to experts. Any change that would lead to a dearth of divorce- and marriage-related facts and figures could impact a variety of programs like Social Security.
There are other outlets that track The American Marital Status, but researchers said that the ACS is the most accurate and current source of marriage and divorce data. The information is also applied to other research areas, including income inequality.
Without the data from these questions, the recent discovery of the high rate of baby boomer divorces would have gone undetected, according to Steven Ruggles, president of the Population Association of America.
"A lot of states are underreporting their divorce and possibly marriage numbers. The much talked about halted decline in divorce hasn't taken place," he said.
The Office of Management Budget will decide whether to keep the questions and any changes would go into effect in 2016.