June 27, 2011

Census Data on Unmarried Partners

A new Pew Research Center report on the economics of cohabitation uses American Community Survey (ACS) data to compare the financial well-being–in terms of household income–of adults ages 30-44 who are married, living with an unmarried opposite-sex partner, and living without a partner. Among the less-educated (adults without college degrees), cohabiters are less well off than married adults and barely better off than those without opposite-sex partners or spouses. Among the college-educated, cohabiters have higher household incomes than adults who are married or living without opposite-sex partners.

According to the report, labor market participation and household make-up (especially the presence of children) are important factors that help explain these income differences.

The Census Bureau ACS estimates about the characteristics of these unmarried couples and other adults are from 2009. Over the summer, the bureau has been releasing state-by-state data from the 2010 Census that includes counts down to the neighborhood level of unmarried couples (both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, with and without children) from Summary File 1.