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Will less statistical info render American family realities murky?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2015 | Uncategorized

What exactly is encompassed within the term “American family?” In most people’s minds, does that readily conjure up an image of a never-divorced mom and dad, with one or more kids in tow?

Although it certainly might have at one time, people throughout Texas and nationally long ago put aside stereotypical notions that delineate families in narrow ways.

Frankly, failure to do so renders inexplicable the sheer family diversity that is strongly apparent in most neighborhoods across the country. There are single-parent households, post-divorce blended families, biracial families, same-sex partnerships, extended family units and more.

We know this both from frank personal observation and from a virtual sea of statistical data that have been compiled on American families over time. Researchers have used such information to better understand family evolution and trends across the country and to guide legislators and other groups in their efforts to craft sound social policies.

What would happen if, in the dynamic social/family sphere that so fundamentally defines the United States, the deep well of statistical information centrally relied upon to understand the American family went dry?

That is, what would the result be if demographers and research groups simply stopped asking for important family-related information?

That question is both posed and responded to in a media focus on curtailed information regarding family-related matters that has become increasingly apparent in recent years with successive cutbacks in government research initiatives.

Notably, the U.S. Census Bureau recently indicated that more of the same may be forthcoming, with the department citing a likelihood that it will cease asking family-related questions on its ongoing Community Survey administered to respondents nationally.

We will address what one media article on the matter terms a “statistical void” resulting from this development and prior research curtailment in our next blog post.


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