Relationship Status Geography

Some places attract young singles, whereas others attract married couples and families. Something obvious made even more so when I stayed in the city for the weekend, away from my small slice of suburbia. I was curious how this varied across the country.

In The Information Capital, a book of maps and charts about London, James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti mapped relationship status for their region.

London relationship status

The book about London — who the people are, where they go, and what they do — is a fun one to flip through. Probably more so if you live in the city.

Anyways, as is usually the case, you see patterns in one area, and you wonder what it’s like where you live. So I grabbed data on marital status from the American Community Survey. It only goes down to the county level unfortunately, but you can still make out geographic patterns.

Let’s have a closer look at the marital status of America: married, never married, divorced, separated, and widowed. There was no “It’s complicated” status in the ACS.

Married

About half of the population aged 15 years or older are married. That large portion surprised me. I mean, I’m married, most of my friends are married, and I guess a large portion of my cousins are married, but still. I guess when you really think about it, half of the marriageable population isn’t that high.

That said, some areas have higher percentages of married people compared to the rest of the country. In particular, the Midwest, Utah, and parts of Idaho and Montana are high up there.

Single

In contrast, when you look at areas where there are relatively more people who have never married, you get the reverse of the married people map. That belt in the south that stretches west to where Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana join is an interesting cluster. Although I’m not sure why it’s like that. (Update: Cotton might have something to do with it.) A similar pattern shows up on later maps too.

Singles versus Married

Overall though, in most counties, there are more married people than single people. There are about 150 counties where the order is reversed.

Divorced

Just above the singles belt: a divorce belt. Again, I’m not sure why that pattern is there, but it seems interesting. That said, the higher percentages of divorcees are in the Northwest.

Separated

Only two percent of the 15 and older population is separated — still married but not together really — and this in relatively higher percentages in the south for some reason. Is it just more common to separate instead of officially divorce in these areas?

Widowed

About six percent of the marriageable population is widowed. There isn’t a lot of clear geographic concentration, other than the little bit in Texas and Nevada.

Become a member.
Get unlimited access to tutorials, courses, and practical guides. Make great charts.

Join Today

Membership

This is for people interested in the process of creating, designing, and exploring data graphics. Your support goes directly to FlowingData, an independently run site.

What You Get

  • Learn to make any chart with instant access to step-by-step tutorials.
  • Download source code and files to use with your own data.
  • In-depth courses on visualization to learn at your own pace.
  • Stay up-to-date with additional resources and visualization tools.
  • Get the members-only newsletter.

Favorites

Cuisine Ingredients

What are the ingredients that make each cuisine? I looked at 40,000 recipes spanning 20 cuisines and 6,714 ingredients to see what makes food taste different.

The Changing American Diet

See what we ate on an average day, for the past several decades.

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

Interactive: When Do Americans Leave For Work?

We don’t all start our work days at the same time, despite what morning rush hour might have you think.