Marital Status (Volume II, Part IV - Subject Reports)
Definitions and Explanations
Some of the definitions used in 1960 differ from those used in 1950. These changes were made after consultation with users of census data in order to improve the statistics, even though it was recognized that comparability would be affected. The Definitions and Explanations should be interpreted in the context of the 1960 Censuses, in which data were collected by a combination of self-enumeration, direct interview, and observation by the enumerator.
The definitions below are consistent with the instructions given to the enumerator. As in all surveys, there were some failures to execute the instructions exactly. Through the forms distributed to households, the respondents were given explanations of some of the questions more uniformly than would have been given in direct interviews. Nevertheless, it was not feasible to give the full instructions to the respondents, and some erroneous replies have undoubtedly gone undetected.
More complete discussions of the definitions of population items are given in 1960 Census of Population, Volume I, Characteristics of the Population, Part 1, United States Summary, and in each of the State parts.
The data on marital status were obtained from answers to question P7 on the Advance Census Report.
In the 1960 Census, as in the 1950 Census, data on marital status were obtained from persons 14 years old and over largely because economic data were to be presented for persons in that age group. In 19H0, most of the data on marital status were shown for persons 15 years old and over. In earlier censuses data on marital status were tabulated only for persons 15 years old and over.
The marital status classification refers to the marital status of the person at the time of the enumeration.
Single persons are those who have never married or whose only marriage has been annulled. Persons ever married are those in the categories married (including separated), widowed, and divorced.
Married persons are those who reported themselves as married, whether or not the person's spouse was living in the same household, and include persons who were living in common-law marriages. Persons classified as married, spouse present, are married persons whose spouse was living in the same household, even though he or she may have been temporarily absent on business or vacation, or in a hospital, at the time of the enumeration. Presence of spouse was ascertained by examining entries for household relationship, marital status, and related information, for members of the household. Persons married, spouse absent are married persons whose spouse did not live in the same household. Such persons are further classified as separated or other married, spouse absent, as defined below. The small number of persons living with, their spouse in group quarters are classified as married, spouse absent; if a married person in group quarters was in the sample, his spouse was unlikely to be in the sample, because in. group quarters the sample consisted of every "nth" person in order of enumeration.
The number of married couples is, by definition, identical to the number of married men with wife present.
Separated persons are those with legal separations, those living apart with intentions of obtaining a divorce, and other persons permanently or temporarily estranged from their spouse because of marital discord. Persons with a limited divorce were also classified as separated. Persons classified as other married, spouse absent, include married persons working and living for several months at a considerable distance from their homes, those whose spouse was absent in the Armed Forces or in an institution, in-migrants whose spouse remained in another area, and all other married persons (except those reported as separated) whose place of residence was not the same as that of their spouse.
Widowed persons are those whose spouse had died and who were not remarried at the time of the enumeration. Divorced persons are those who had been, legally divorced and were not remarried at the time of the enumeration.
Differences between the number of married men and the number of married women are due partly to the absence of husbands or wives from the country at the time of enumeration. Examples are women whose husbands were in the Armed Forces overseas and immigrants whose husbands or wives were still abroad. Differences may also arise because the husband and wife have different places of residence, because of differences in the completeness and accuracy of reporting on marital status for men and women, and because of the methods used to inflate the sample cases. The number of married men with wife present shown in this report should, by definition, be identical with the number of married women with husband present. However, the figures may not be exactly the same because, in the weighting of the sample, husbands and their wives were sometimes given different weights.
Whether Married More Than Once and Years since First Marriage
The data on whether married more than once and date of first marriage were obtained from answers to the following questions on the Household Questionnaire:
These data were obtained for all ever-married persons in the 25-percent sample, that is, for all persons reported as married, widowed, divorced, or separated at the time of the enumeration. Persons who had been married only once were asked when they were first married, and those who had been married more than once were asked when they were married for the first time. The number of years since the person's first marriage, shown in table 2, was derived by subtracting the date of first marriage from April 1, 1960, and represents the number of completed years since first marriage.
Uses and Limitations of the Data
In using these statistics, it should be kept in mind that they refer to marital status as of the time of the enumeration. For instance, the number of widowed persons does not include persons who have remarried and are living with their second husband or wife; these persons are classified according to their current marital status. Nonetheless, in the absence of data based on a longitudinal study, of identical persons covering their lifetime experience, analyses of lifetime changes in characteristics may be made from cross-sectional data such as these. The figures are of value, also, for studying differences between social and economic groups with respect to the likelihood of marriage, separation, divorce, widowhood, and remarriage.
Because changes in marital status may be selective of certain types of persons, the persons in a marital status class at the time of the enumeration may not be representative of all persons who have entered that class at some time in the past. Thus, if rich widows have a higher probability of remarriage than poor ones, the income distribution of women who are still widows at the time of the enumeration will tend to be lower than the income distribution for all women who have ever been widowed, including those who have remarried.
In addition, it should be kept in mind that the statistics refer to the population enumerated at its usual place of residence. For Instance, a married woman whose husband is living away from home because of membership in the Armed Forces would have been assigned the marital status classification "married, spouse absent" because, according to the rules by which the population was assigned a usual place of residence, her husband would have been counted at his military installation rather than at her home.
The Quality of the Data on marital status may be judged from information on nonresponse rates and from comparison of the marital status reported by identical persons in the census and in the Current Population Survey. In addition, some information is available on the marital status reported by persons who were divorced immediately before the census.
Allocation for nonresponse
Information on nonresponse rates on marital status is shown in 1960 Census of Population, Volume I, Characteristics of the Population, tables B-1, C-2, and. D-1, All persons with a nonresponse on marital status were allocated to a definite marital status category, as explained in the section on "Editing," below. Only six-tenths of one percent of persons 14 years old and over in the 25-percent sample failed to respond to the question on marital status or gave a response inconsistent with other information in the schedule. The proportion was 0.6 percent for white persons, and 1.3 percent for nonwhite persons.
The relative quality of data for each marital status class of the population is measured to some extent by the proportion of persons in each class who were assigned to that class, by allocation. Only 0.1 percent of the number of married persons shown in the published tables based on the 25-percent sample was allocated (table A). By contrast, the corresponding figure was 2.8 percent for the number of separated persons, and 2.3 percent for divorced persons. The percent of allocation in each marital status class was derived by comparing the number of persons by marital status in the Volume I tables based on the 25-percent sample with the figures in table D-1 of Volume I, which shows the number of persons in each class before allocation for nonresponse. From these sources, rates of allocation for each marital status class may be developed by color, residence, regions, and States. However, some assignments of marital status were not included in the count of allocations, as explained below in the section on "Editing."
Table A. Percent Allocated of Published Number in Each marital status Class by color, For the United States: 1960
|Single (14 years old and over)
The nonresponse rate on whether married more than once was 5.0 percent of the number of ever-married persons. The corresponding figure was 4.6 percent for white persons, and 8.9 percent for nonwhites. About 5.1 percent of the number of persons married once was assigned by allocation, as compared with 4.6 percent of the number of persons married more than once (table B). Data on this subject by color, for States, are presented in table A-1 of the present report. The procedures for editing the information on whether married more than once are described in the section on "Editing," below.
Table B. Percent Allocated Of Published Number Married Once and Married More Than Once, By color, For The United States: 1960
|Whether married more than once
|Married more than once
Persons with marital status allocated for nonresponse were more likely than others to have allocations also for the number of times married. One in every three persons with an allocation to one of the "ever-married" categories had an allocation of whether married more than once, as compared with only 1 in every 20 persons whose marital status was not allocated (table C). This suggests that to some extent problems of enumeration on one of these items were associated with problems on the other. However, only 2 percent of persons with whether married more than once allocated had marital status allocated; for 98 percent of these persons, allocation of marital status was not necessary.
Table C. Allocation of marital status by Allocation of Whether Married More Than Once, For the United States: 1960
|Allocation of whether married more than once
||Allocation of Marital Status
|Total ever married
Information on the reliability of the data on marital status is shown by measures of simple response variance prepared in connection with the CPS-Census Match Study. As part of that study, the marital status reported for persons in the 1960 Census was compared with the marital status for identical persons in the March 1960 Current Population Survey. Around 98 or 99 percent of married persons and single persons in the CPS were identically reported in the census. Percentages of identical reporting were lower for other classes, especially for separated and divorced persons. Furthermore, in most classes, percentages of identical reporting were lower for males than for females (table D). Several different measures of response variance on marital status are shown by age, color, sex, and residence, in Evaluation and Research Program of the U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing, 1960: Accuracy of Data on Population Characteristics as Measured by CPS-Census Match, Series ER-60, No. 5.
Table D. Percent of Persons in Specified Marital Status Glass In March 1960 Current Population Survey Who Were Identically Reported In Census
|Marital Status in CPS
Some information on problems of enumeration of divorced persons was obtained in a study of the 1960 Census characteristics of a sample of persons who received divorces in March 1960. This study was sponsored by the Monograph Committee of the American Public Health Association. It is expected that the results of the study will be further reported in the forthcoming American Public Health Association monograph on marriage and divorce. The study involved matching to census records the persons listed in all certificates of divorces occurring in March 1960 in the States of Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
A total of 551 persons were matched to the 25-percent sample records of the 1960 Census, after allowance for persons not included in the 25-percent census sample, for attrition due to persons who had moved away from the address listed in the divorce certificate, and for addresses that were insufficiently precise for matching purposes. Of these 554 persons, all of whom received divorces in March, 418 were reported as divorced in the April 1960 Census, 124 had a marital status report other than divorced and 12 had a nonresponse on marital status (table E). Persons who were reported as "married, spouse present" in the census doubtless included several who had married again shortly after the divorce decree was issued. Persons reported as separated or "other marital status" (comprising single, widowed, and married, spouse absent except separated) largely represent errors of classification. However, only errors involving the misclassification of divorced persons are reflected in these figures. Figures on net error in classification would require additional information, which is not available, on the extent to which persons of other marital status classes were misclassified as divorced. Furthermore, the errors in reporting of marital status in the census for recently divorced persons may not be representative of errors for all divorced persons.
Some part of the misclassification of recently divorced persons may be due to deliberate misreporting. An additional source of misclassification may be the fact that a relatively large proportion of divorced persons live in lodging houses and other types of living quarters where census information may be reported by persons, other than the person himself, who do not know the person's marital status.
Table E. Marital Status Reported In Census for 554 Persons Divorced In March 1960
|Marital Status in census
|Married, spouse present
|Other Marital Status
|Marital Status not reported
|Married, spouse present
|Other Marital Status
|Marital Status not reported
Inquiry regarding marital status was first made in the Census of 1880 but the results were not tabulated; the earliest Federal census figures on marital status therefore are those for 1890.
The category "Separated" was included in the question on marital status for the first time in 1950. It was added to the categories "Single," "Married," "Widowed," and "Divorced," included in previous censuses, in order to distinguish between married persons with spouse absent on account of marital discord and other married persons with spouse absent. With the introduction of this category, figures on separated, divorced, and widowed persons may be combined to yield the total number of persons with "broken" marriages. This change, however, may have made the number of persons reported as divorced somewhat smaller in 1950 and 1960 than it would have been under the earlier procedure.
In 1950, as in 1960, the question on marital status included the category "never married," whereas the corresponding term in earlier censuses was "single." This change may have made the number of persons reported as never married in 1950 and 1960 somewhat smaller than it would have been under the earlier procedure.
The 1960 marital status categories are the same as those of the 1950 Census, except for the exclusion of all persons in group quarters from the category "married, spouse present." It is possible, however, that the use of self-enumeration in 1960 rather than direct enumeration, as in previous censuses, has produced some degree of incomparability in the data.
In 1960, and in previous censuses, marital status was not reported for a small number of persons. For such persons marital status was assigned in 1940 and 1950 on the basis of age and the presence of spouse or children. Because of the methods used in 1950, however, some persons who would have been classified as single under the 1940 procedure were classified as "married, spouse absent" or "widowed" in 1950. The procedures used in 1960 for assigning characteristics such as marital status when they were not reported are described below in the section on "Editing."
1960 Census data in other reports
Other reports present data based on the complete count and the 25-percent sample. The number of persons 14 years old and over in the United States in the 25-percent sample is identical to the number in the complete count, because the totals in the sample were controlled to agree with those in the complete count (table F). This control did not extend to the classifications by marital status. Thus, the 25-percent sample as published overrepresented married persons and underrepresented widowed and single persons. These discrepancies reflect in large part an underrepresentation of primary individuals, most of whom are widowed and single, in the sample, and an overrepresentation of primary family heads, most of whom are married (see 1960 Census of Population, Final Report, PC(2)-4B, Persons by family Characteristics). Investigation of available data suggests that these differences arose primarily in the Sample Designation. The procedure for selecting the sample would have produced unbiased results if the design had been carried out according to instructions. The designation of the sample by the enumerator at the time he was canvassing was a low-cost procedure which, created some opportunity for undetected errors to occur and made control difficult. These and other differences shown in table P may also result in part from differences in the procedures for Editing the complete-count and sample data, and from the fact that the sample data were processed through a clerical coding operation, whereas the complete-count data were not
Table F. Comparison of Complete-Count Data, Data from 25-Percent and 5-Percent Samples of the 1960. Census of Population, And Data from the Current Population Survey, For the United States: 1960
|Marital Status and sex
||Current Population Survey, March 1960
||Deviation from 1960 census 5-percent sample
||Deviation from complete count
||Deviation from 25-percent sample
|Total, 14 years old and over
| Male, 14 years old and over
| Wife present
| Wife absent
| Female, 14 years old and over
| Husband present
| Husband absent
Revised for consistency with revised independent estimates of the population.
Males in military barracks not included in CPS.
The marital status figures from the 5-percent sample shown in this report tend to be in close agreement with those from the 25-percent sample shown in other reports. Where the 5-percent sample data differ from the 25-percent sample data, the 5-percent sample data are, in most cases, in closer agreement with the complete count.
Current Population Survey
Table F also includes comparisons of figures from the March 1960 Current Population Survey (CPS) with those from the present report. Most of the CPS figures on marital status are in agreement with those in the 1960 Census 5-percent sample when allowance is made for differences in coverage between the Census and the CPS, differences in the classification of married couples in group quarters, and the sampling error of the estimates. The CPS figures include members of the Armed Forces living off post or on post with their families, but exclude all other members of the Armed Forces; whereas, in the Census, all members of the Armed Forces resident in the United States are included. In addition, the small number of married couples in group quarters were classified as married, spouse present in the CPS, whereas in the Census such persons were classified as married, spouse absent, as explained above.
The number of single males in the CPS is too large relative to the Census figure, when account is taken of the exclusion of males in military barracks from the population covered by the CPS. Furthermore, the CPS figure for married males with spouse absent (except separated) falls short of the Census figure by too large an amount to be attributable to this difference in coverage. These differences may represent inconsistencies in the reporting of marital status in the CPS and the Census or chance fluctuations in the data for these marital status classes; persons in these marital status classes are overrepresented in the population in institutions and other group quarters, where the sampling errors in the CPS are relatively large.
A detailed comparison of a number of items, including marital status, appearing in the 1960 25- percent sample and the CPS is available in Evaluation and Research Program of the U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960, Accuracy of Data on Population Characteristics as Measured by CPS-Census Match, Series ER-60, No. 5.
The arithmetic mean is that measure of central tendency which represents the sum of values divided by the number of values. Mean earnings shown in table 7 is the amount obtained by dividing the total earnings of a group by the number of earners in that group. These amounts are expressed to the nearest dollar.
The median is presented in connection with the data on age, Years of School Completed, income, and the difference between age of husband and age of wife. It is the value which divides the distribution into two equal parts, one-half the cases falling below this value and one-half the cases exceeding this value.
A plus (+) or minus (-) sign after the median indicates that the median is above or below that number. For example, a median of "$10,000+" for income indicates that the median fell in the interval $10,000 or core. For information on computation of median difference between age of husband and age of wife see discussion of that subject below.
In general, the urban population comprises all persons living in Urbanized Areas and in places of 2,500 inhabitants or more outside Urbanized Areas. More specifically, according to the definition adopted for use in the 1960 Census, the urban population comprises all persons living in (a) places of 2,500 inhabitants or more incorporated as cities, boroughs, villages, and towns (except towns in New England, New York, and Wisconsin) ; (b) the densely settled urban fringe, whether incorporated or unincorporated, of Urbanized Areas; (c) towns in New England and townships in New Jersey and Pennsylvania which contain no incorporated municipalities as subdivisions and have either 25,000 inhabitants or more or a population of 2,500 to 25,000 and a density of 1,500 persons or more per square mile; (d). counties in States other than the New England States, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that have no incorporated municipalities within their boundaries and have a density of 1,500 persons or more per square mile; and (e) unincorporated places of 2,500 inhabitants or more. The population not classified as urban constitutes the rural population.
The rural population is subdivided into the rural-farm population, which comprises all rural residents living on farms, and the rural-nonfarm population, which comprises the remaining rural population. In the 1960 Census, the farm population consists of persons living in rural territory on places of 10 or more acres from which sales of farm products amounted to $50 or more in 1959 or on places of less than 10 acres from which sales of farm products amounted to $250 or more in 1959. All persons living in group quarters are classified as nonfarm except the relatively few living in workers' quarters (including quarters for migratory agricultural workers) that are located on a farm or ranch.
An Urbanized Area contains at least one city of 50,000 inhabitants or more in 1960 and the surrounding closely settled incorporated places and unincorporated areas that meet certain criteria relating to population density or land use. An Urbanized Area may be thought of as divided into the central city, or cities, and the remainder of the area, or the urban fringe. All persons residing in an Urbanized Area are included in the urban population.
The age classification is based on the age of the person in completed years as of April 1, 1960, as determined from the reply to a question on month and year of birth.
Difference between Age of Husband and age of Wife
The difference between age of husband and age of wife was obtained by subtraction of the age of the wife from the age of the husband, and represents the interval in completed years. A negative value indicates that the wife is older than the husband and a value of zero indicates that both are the same age.
The medians shown in table G take into account the approximate nature of some of the derived intervals. Subtraction of one age (in completed years) from another age (also in completed years) produces differences that are subject to errors of plus or minus one year. For example, a computed difference of "2 years" may reflect a true value of anywhere from 1.0 years to 3.0 years. Similarly, a computed difference of "3 years" may reflect a true value of anywhere from 2.0 to 4.0 years. Thus, the range of true values overlaps from one completed Interval to another. If the overlapping parts are assumed to be compensatory in nature, then the data are the equivalent of independent Intervals that begin and end one-half year on either side of the computed differences, or 1.5 to 2.5 years for the computed "2 years" difference and 2.5 to U.5 years for the computed "3 to 4 years" difference.
Outer limits for the open-end intervals were set after inspection of distributions based on vital statistics records.
Table G. Class Intervals for Calculation of Median Difference between Age of Husband
and Age of Wife
|Interval as shown in table 9
||Interval for calculation of median
|10 years or more
||9.5 to 24.5
|5 to 9 years
||4.5 to 9.5
|3 to 4 years
||2.5 to 4.5
||1.5 to 2.5
||0.5 to 1.5
|Same age or husband 1 year younger
||-1.5 to 0.5
|Husband 2 or more years younger
||-4.5 to -1.5
Age at first marriage was derived by subtraction of the person's birthdate from his date of first marriage and is expressed in completed years.
The term "color" refers to the division of population into two groups, white and nonwhite. The color group designated as "nonwhite" consists of such races as the Negro, American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Hawaiian, Asian Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Malayan races. Persons of Mexican birth or ancestry who are not definitely of Indian or other non-white race are classified as white.
In addition to persons of Negro and of mixed Negro and white descent, this classification includes persons of mixed Indian and Negro descent, unless the Indian ancestry predominates or unless the individual is regarded as an Indian in the community.
In addition to full-blooded Indians, persons of mixed white and Indian blood are included if the proportion of Indian blood is one-fourth or more, or if they are regarded as Indian in the community. Indians living in Indian territory or on reservations were not Included in population until 1890.
Separate statistics are given in this report for Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos. The category "other races" includes Koreans, Hawaiians, Asian Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, Malayans, etc.
Persons of mixed racial parentage are classified according to the race of the non-white parent, and mixtures of nonwhite races are classified according to the race of the father, with the special exceptions noted above.
Married couples with husband and wife of different race
Figures on married couples with husband and wife of different race are shown in tables 10 and 12 of this report. These figures may be understated because some couples did not report race on the self-enumeration form (Advance Census Report). For such persons, race was sometimes entered by the enumerator from observation, but, when the enumerator did not interview both husband and wife directly and in cases when race was assigned in the computer, it was assumed that the husband and wife were of the same race.
This category comprises persons born in the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a possession of the United States; persons born in a foreign country or at sea who have at least one native American parent; and persons whose place of birth was not reported and whose census report contained no contradictory information, such as an entry of a language spoken prior to coming to the United States.
This category includes all persons not classified as native.
Native of native parentage
This category consists of native persons both of whose parents are also natives of the United States.
Native of foreign or mixed parentage
This category includes native persons one or both of whose parents are foreign born.
This category includes foreign- born persons and native persons of foreign or mixed parentage.
Years of School Completed
The data on Years of School Completed were derived from the answers to the two questions: (a) "What is the highest grade (or year) of regular school he has ever attended?" and (b) "Did he finish this grade (or year)?" Enumerators were instructed to obtain the approximate equivalent grade in the American school system for persons whose highest grade of attendance was in a foreign school system, whose highest level of attendance was in an ungraded school, whose highest level of schooling was measured by "readers," or whose training by a tutor was regarded as qualifying under the "regular" school definition, Persons were to answer "No" to the second question if they were attending school, had completed only part of a grade before they dropped out, or failed to pass the last grade attended.
The number in each category of highest grade of school completed represents the combination of (a) persons who reported that they had attended the indicated grade and finished it, and (b) those who had attended the next higher grade but had not finished it.
The data on Employment Status relate to the calendar week prior to the date on which the respondents filled their Household Questionnaires or were interviewed by enumerators. This week is not the same for all respondents because not all persons were enumerated during the same week.
Employed persons comprise all civilians 14 years old and over who were either (a) "at work"-those who did any work for pay or profit, or worked without pay for 15 hours or more on a family farm or in a family business; or (b) were "with a job but not at work" - those who did not work and were not looking for work but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent because of bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, illness, or other personal reasons.
Persons are classified as unemployed if they were 14 years old and over and not "at work" bat looking for work. A person is considered as looking for work not only if he actually tried to find work but also if he had made such efforts recently (i.e., within the past 60 days) and was awaiting the results of these efforts. Persons waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off or furloughed are also counted as unemployed.
The "civilian labor force" includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed, as described above. The "labor force" also includes members of the Armed Forces (persons on active duty with the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast guard).
Persons "not In the labor force" .comprise all those 14 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force, including persons doing only incidental unpaid family work less than 15 hours during the week.
The data on occupation in this report are for employed persons and refer to the job held during the week for which Employment Status was reported. For persons employed at two or more jobs, the data refer to the job at which the person worked the greatest number of hours. The occupation statistics presented here are based on the detailed systems developed for the 1960 Census; see 1960 Census, of Population, Classified Index of Occupations and Industries, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1960.
Information on income for the calendar year 1959 was requested from all persons 14-years old and over in the sample. The unqualified term "income" refers to the sum of amounts reported separately for wage or salary income, self-employment income, and other income. Wage or salary income is defined as the total money earnings received for work performed as an employee. It represents the amount received before deductions for personal income taxes, Social Security, bond purchases, union dues, etc. Self-employment income is defined as net money income (gross receipts minus operating expenses) from a business, farm, or professional enterprise in which the person was engaged on his own account. Earnings are the sum of wage or salary and self-employment income. Other Income Includes money income received from such sources as net rents, interest, dividends, Social Security benefits, pensions, veterans' payments, unemployment insurance, and public assistance or other governmental payments, and periodic receipts from insurance policies or annuities. Not included as income are money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property), the value of income "in kind," withdrawals of bank deposits, money borrowed, tax refunds, and gifts and lump-sum inheritances or insurance payments.