Marital Trends


Charles Combs, Sinclair Community College

Learning Goals


  • Using software to access and analyze census data
  • Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Employing control variables
  • Quantitative writing Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
  • Creating visual tools representing quantitative data in the form of charts or graphs
  • Using real world data to enhance and support key course concepts

Substance In the following six demographic exercises, you will look at:

  • Marital status distribution over time
  • Race and ethnic differences in marital trends
  • The shift in the average age of marriage.

Your findings should give you a clearer picture of how marriage in America is changing.

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Sociology class for undergraduate students. This activity looks at martial status, age, race/ethnicity in the United States.

The end of World War II created a dramatic increase in births. Known as the "Baby Boom", this trend continued into the early 1960's. During this period, five out of six women in peak childbearing years gave birth to at least two children. Americans were also marrying and staying married. As baby boomers have matured, they have not followed their parent's marriage and childbearing patterns. Consequently, more people have delayed marriage until their late twenties or early thirties. Couples have both delayed having children and are having fewer children. Divorces have increased as well. Clearly, there no longer seems to be a "singular" marital lifestyle that can be easily identified in American culture.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses three customized data sets; one made from combining census information from 1950-2000 and two from the 1990 Census. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!.