Same-sex couples across the U.S.

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

Following our post about marriage in same-sex couples, we will explore this topic a bit more. It hasn’t been long since June 26, 2015, when same-sex marriage became legal in all U.S. states. Many couples may not have registered their relationship yet. It is also not uncommon for opposite-sex couples to live together without registering their marriage. To aid in identifying such relationships, IPUMS USA introduced a specially-constructed variable to their version of the American Community Survey. Using answers from different questions of the survey form, they attempt to pinpoint the respondent’s potential spouse in the same household.

This map (borrowed from Wikipedia) shows the legal status of same-sex marriage prior to the famous Obergefell v. Hodges case. After this, marriage for same-sex couples became legal nationwide.

Using the inferred spouse data from the IPUMS and ACS 2015 five-year sample, we created a U.S. state map of the different types of couples. These estimates are of course approximate, but they contain few false positives. More than 93 percent of same-sex couples were identified using their explicitly-stated “partner” relationship with one of the householders.

Clearly, the total numbers of same-sex couples are higher in populous states like California, New York and Texas. The situation is different, however, when we look at the ratios. Washington, D.C. has the highest estimated proportion of same-sex couples in the nation: 6.5 percent. Vermont and Massachusetts follow far behind at around 2 percent. On the low end, the picture is also slightly different from what one might think; Georgia, Tennessee and some other states that previously enforced a ban do not have dramatically lower percentages of same-sex couples. Nevertheless, North Dakota has the lowest percentage of same-sex couples at 0.5 percent. Similar numbers are seen in Wyoming (0.5 percent) and West Virginia (0.6 percent). The nationwide ratio of same-sex couples among all cohabiting couples is 1.2 percent.

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About Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

Alexander is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. He currently holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Applied Math. He has experience working for industry major companies performing research in the fields of machine learning, data mining and natural language processing. In his free time, Alexander enjoys hiking, Nordic skiing and traveling.

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