The Use of First Names to Evaluate Reports of Gender and Its Effect on the Distribution of Married and Unmarried Couple Households

Martin O'Connell, U.S. Census Bureau
Gretchen E Gooding, U.S. Census Bureau

In Census Bureau classifications, married-couple households consist of opposite-sex couples, while unmarried partner households may consist of either opposite or same-sex couples. This classification relies not only on the accuracy of the household relationship responses--either as a spouse or unmarried partner--but also on those of gender. Although gender is usually the most accurately reported item on a survey, an analysis of the names of people may occasionally be at odds with their reports on gender. Because the number of unmarried-partner households is relatively small, minor errors in gender could have a substantial impact on estimates. Using the 2004 Test Census of New York, we analyze 60,244 “coupled households “ in this survey—55,026 married couples, 4,112 opposite-sex unmarried partners, and 1,106 same-sex unmarried partners—to see how the utilization of male-female sex probabilities attached to each person’s name would alter this distribution.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design