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Codes and Frequencies

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MARST gives each person's current marital status, including whether the spouse was currently living in the same household.


This variable is comparable across years.

In all years, children were assumed to be single and are included in the never-married category. The youngest age for collecting information directly about marital status rose from 14 to 15 in 1980.

The category "separated" pertains only to married persons who were legally separated or parted because of marital discord, not to those who parted temporarily for other reasons, such as employment or service in the armed forces. Persons who stated they had a common-law marriage were coded as "married."

For the category "married, spouse absent," the original CPS data for 1962-1988 note whether the absent spouse was a member of the armed forces. For 1976 forward, the original CPS data distinguish between civilians and members of the armed forces for the "married, spouse present" category. To increase comparability with IPUMS-USA, these distinctions are not made in the MARST variable in the IPUMS-CPS data.

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

In the CPS data, the distinction between "married, spouse present" and "married, spouse absent" was made during the interview itself. An individual was coded as "married, spouse absent" if he or she reported being married and the husband or wife was not reported to be a member of the same household. Such cases included spouses who were institutionalized or who stayed most of the week at a different residence. This differs from IPUMS-USA, in which the "married, spouse absent" code was consistently imposed after the fact via programming using SPLOC variable.


  • 1962-1979 (ASEC): Persons age 14+ (pre-1968 samples do not include persons under age 14).
  • 1976+ (non-ASEC): Persons age 15+.
  • 1980+ (ASEC): Persons age 15+.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1962 – 1975 - - X - - - - - - - - - -
1976 – 2023 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2024 X X - X X - - - - - - - -