In a USA Today report in 1999, Karen S. Peterson noted that the availability of detailed marriage statistics quietly came to a halt in 1996. The effects of this decision are still being felt by social scientists.
The Census bureau is only giving out the total numbers of marriages and divorces from states. Additionally, there are no details to help scientists do an in-depth analysis. This will also have an impact on future generations as they turn to the census data for genealogy purposes.
For Census 2000, the Census Bureau asked only for information on the short form only when the data is needed in response to legislative requirements and required at the block level. The block level is the smallest level of geography for which information is reported. So, they moved five subjects (marital status, units in structure, number of rooms, value of home, and monthly rent) that were asked of every housing unit (short form) in 1990 to the long form, which went out only to a sample (approximately 20%) of housing units in 2000.
Without the U.S. Census collecting the data, how will we get information about marriage, divorce and cohabitation that sociologists, policymakers, and researchers need?
Yes, there are other groups such as the AAMFT collecting data, but some believe they will be seriously hampered by this decision of the Census Bureau. Other researchers think that this won't cause major problems in gathering data. They are unimpressed with the data collected in the first place, and concerns about privacy issues are also mentioned.