Measuring Cohabitation and Marriage in the United States for Same-Gender and Different-Gender Couples: Assessing New Data from the Current Population Survey

Wendy Manning1, Krista Payne1
1Bowling Green State University

Since 2016 marriages to same-sex couples have been legally recognized across every state, but there have been challenges to measuring them. Starting in 2017 every household in the Current Population Survey (CPS) was offered a new household roster that directly identified same-gender and different-gender cohabiting and married couples. To gauge how the estimates of same-gender and different-gender households compare across the traditional and new roster we compare estimates using the traditional roster in the 2015 and 2016 CPS to estimates based on the new roster using the 2017 and 2018 CPS.  Employing these new indicators, we establish the levels of cohabitation and marriage among same-gender and different-gender couples and distinguish differences according to their sociodemographic characteristics. These findings have implications for the measurement of both same-gender and different-gender couples. Accurate assessment of the implications of marriage in the contemporary climate requires correctly identifying cohabiting and married couples.