Census Bureau: Flaws in Same-Sex Couple Data

Sep 28, 2011

The Census Bureau announced today that more than one-in-four same-sex couples counted in the 2010 Census was likely an opposite-sex couple, and identified a confusing questionnaire as a likely culprit. The bureau released a new set of “preferred” same-sex counts, including its first tally ever of same-sex spouses counted in the census.

The official count of same-sex couple households from the 2010 Census: 901,997. The new preferred count: 646,464, meaning that 28.3% of the same-sex couples counted was likely an opposite-sex couple. Of the households in the official count, 552,620 were unmarried couples and 349,377 described themselves as spouses. The new preferred count: 514,735 unmarried couples and 131,729 married couples.

Even this revised same-sex spouse count is likely high, the Census Bureau said, citing estimates that perhaps 80,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. are legally married (although another 85,000 could be in same-sex civil unions). As a previous posting here explained, some same-sex couples in civil unions may believe that calling themselves married is a better description of their relationship than unmarried partner, according to previous census research.

Read the full report, Census Bureau: Flaws in Same-Sex Couple Data, on the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Web site.

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