Marriage Measures Guide of State-Level Statistics. Overview and Layout

03/30/2008

The Marriage Measures Guide is a collection of stand-alone five-page reports for each of the 50 U.S. states.  Each report has the same layout and content.  The report begins with a one-page summary sheet that briefly describes the size and racial/ethnic makeup of the states population and highlights key findings from the companion statistical tables.  Following the summary sheet, there are four pages of detailed statistical tables, with information to help local policymakers and program operators better understand the characteristics of their state populations.  The main topics covered in the tables include (1) marriage and childbearing, (2) marriage and divorce, and (3) marriage and low-income children.  We describe these topics in greater detail below.  After reading this introductory chapter, most readers should use the guide by turning directly to the summary sheet and statistical tables for their individual state.  However, important information can also be gained by scanning the tables for several states to develop points of comparison.

The information included in the Marriage Measures Guide can be used to answer the following types of questions policymakers might have as they design and implement their healthy marriage programs:

  • What percentage of children in my state are born to unmarried women?
  • What is the overall racial/ethnic makeup of my states population?
  • How does the percentage of births to unmarried women vary among racial/ethnic groups?
  • What is the overall divorce rate in my state?
  • How does the divorce rate in my state rank in comparison to those of other states?
  • How many low-income children live in my state?
  • What percentage of the low-income children in my state live with married parents?
  • Do most of the low-income children in my state live in rural or urban areas?

For most of these statistics, the guide also provides national and regional benchmark estimates to help identify the distinctive characteristics of each state, information policymakers can use to better understand marriage patterns in their state and to design an approach that best serves the needs of their local populations.

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