Race and ethnicity in the United States Census
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most identify, indicate whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino origin. The racial categories represent a social-political construct for the race or races that respondents consider themselves to be and, "generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country." OMB defines the concept of race as outlined for the US Census as not "scientific or anthropological" and takes into account "social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry", using "appropriate scientific methodologies" that are not "primarily biological or genetic in reference." The race categories include both national-origin groups. Race and ethnicity are considered separate and distinct identities, with Hispanic or Latino origin asked as a separate question. Thus, in addition to their race or races, all respondents are categorized by membership in one of two ethnic categories, which are "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino".
However, the practice of separating "race" and "ethnicity" as different categories has been criticized both by the American Anthropological Association and members of US Commission on Civil Rights. In 1997, OMB issued a Federal Register notice regarding revisions to the standards for the classification of federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB developed race and ethnic standards in order to provide "consistent data on race and ethnicity throughout the Federal Government; the development of the data standards stem in large measure from new responsibilities to enforce civil rights laws." Among the changes, OMB issued the instruction to "mark one or more races" after noting evidence of increasing numbers of interracial children and wanting to capture the diversity in a measurable way and having received requests by people who wanted to be able to acknowledge their or their children's full ancestry rather than identifying with only one group. Prior to this decision, the Census and other government data collections asked people to report only one race.
The OMB states, "many federal programs are put into effect based on the race data obtained from the decennial census. Race data are critical for the basic research behind many policy decisions. States require these data to meet legislative redistricting requirements; the data are needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act by local jurisdictions". "Data on ethnic groups are important for putting into effect a number of federal statutes. Data on Ethnic Groups are needed by local governments to run programs and meet legislative requirements." The 1790 United States Census was the first census in the history of the United States. The population of the United States was recorded as 3,929,214 as of Census Day, August 2, 1790, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and applicable laws."The law required that every household be visited, that completed census schedules be posted in'two of the most public places within, there to remain for the inspection of all concerned...' and that'the aggregate amount of each description of persons' for every district be transmitted to the president."
This law along with U. S. marshals were responsible for governing the census. One third of the original census data has been lost or destroyed since documentation; the data was lost in 1790–1830 time period and included data from: Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia. Census data included the name of the head of the family and categorized inhabitants as follows: free white males at least 16 years of age, free white males under 16 years of age, free white females, all other free persons, slaves. Thomas Jefferson the Secretary of State, directed marshals to collect data from all thirteen states, from the Southwest Territory; the census was not conducted in Vermont until 1791, after that state's admission to the Union as the 14th state on March 4 of that year. There was some doubt surrounding the numbers, President George Washington and Thomas Jefferson maintained the population was undercounted; the potential reasons Washington and Jefferson may have thought this could be refusal to participate, poor public transportation and roads, spread out population, restraints of current technology.
No microdata from the 1790 population census is available, but aggregate data for small areas and their compatible cartographic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System. In 1800 and 1810, the age question regarding free white males was more detailed; the 1820
2010 United States Census
The 2010 United States Census is the twenty-third and most recent United States national census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, was April 1, 2010; the census was taken via mail-in citizen self-reporting, with enumerators serving to spot-check randomly selected neighborhoods and communities. As part of a drive to increase the count's accuracy, 635,000 temporary enumerators were hired; the population of the United States was counted as 308,745,538, a 9.7% increase from the 2000 Census. This was the first census in which all states recorded a population of over half a million, as well as the first in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 200,000; as required by the United States Constitution, the U. S. census has been conducted every 10 years since 1790. The 2000 U. S. Census was the previous census completed. Participation in the U. S. Census is required by law in Title 13 of the United States Code. On January 25, 2010, Census Bureau Director Robert Groves inaugurated the 2010 Census enumeration by counting World War II veteran Clifton Jackson, a resident of Noorvik, Alaska.
More than 120 million census forms were delivered by the U. S. Post Office beginning March 15, 2010; the number of forms mailed out or hand-delivered by the Census Bureau was 134 million on April 1, 2010. Although the questionnaire used April 1, 2010 as the reference date as to where a person was living, an insert dated March 15, 2010 included the following printed in bold type: "Please complete and mail back the enclosed census form today." The 2010 Census national mail participation rate was 74%. From April through July 2010, census takers visited households that did not return a form, an operation called "non-response follow-up". In December 2010, the U. S. Census Bureau delivered population information to the U. S. President for apportionment, in March 2011, complete redistricting data was delivered to states. Identifiable information will be available in 2082; the Census Bureau did not use a long form for the 2010 Census. In several previous censuses, one in six households received this long form, which asked for detailed social and economic information.
The 2010 Census used only a short form asking ten basic questions: How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010? Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? Mark all that apply: Is this house, apartment, or mobile home – What is your telephone number? What is Person 1's name? What is Person 1's sex? What is Person 1's age and Person 1's date of birth? Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? What is Person 1's race? Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else? The form included space to repeat all of these questions for up to twelve residents total. In contrast to the 2000 census, an Internet response option was not offered, nor was the form available for download. Detailed socioeconomic information collected during past censuses will continue to be collected through the American Community Survey; the survey provides data about communities in the United States on a 1-year or 3-year cycle, depending on the size of the community, rather than once every 10 years.
A small percentage of the population on a rotating basis will receive the survey each year, no household will receive it more than once every five years. In June 2009, the U. S. Census Bureau announced. However, the final form did not contain a separate "same-sex married couple" option; when noting the relationship between household members, same-sex couples who are married could mark their spouses as being "Husband or wife", the same response given by opposite-sex married couples. An "unmarried partner" option was available for couples; the 2010 census cost $13 billion $42 per capita. Operational costs were $5.4 billion under the $7 billion budget. In December 2010 the Government Accountability Office noted that the cost of conducting the census has doubled each decade since 1970. In a detailed 2004 report to Congress, the GAO called on the Census Bureau to address cost and design issues, at that time, had estimated the 2010 Census cost to be $11 billion. In August 2010, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that the census operational costs came in under budget.
Locke credited the management practices of Census Bureau director Robert Groves, citing in particular the decision to buy additional advertising in locations where responses lagged, which improved the overall response rate. The agency has begun to rely more on questioning neighbors or other reliable third parties when a person could not be reached at home, which reduced the cost of follow-up visits. Census data for about 22% of U. S. househol
St. Stephens, Alabama
St. Stephens is an unincorporated census-designated place in Washington County, United States; as of the 2010 census, its population was 495. Located near the Tombigbee River in the southwestern part of the state and 67 miles north of Mobile, it is composed of two distinct sites: Old St. Stephens and New St. Stephens; the Old St. Stephens site is no longer inhabited, it was the territorial capital of the Alabama Territory. Now encompassed by the Old St. Stephens Historical Park, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Changes in the territorial capital and transportation resulted in the Old St. Stephens site being bypassed by development. "New" St. Stephens developed two miles inland around a railway station, but adjacent to the old site, it is the location of the post office and Methodist churches, residences. It has one building listed on the National Register and another on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. St. Stephens first appeared on the 1890 U. S. Census as an unincorporated village.
It did not reappear again until 2010. Old St. Stephens was situated on a limestone bluff that the Native Americans called Hobucakintopa, at the fall line along the Tombigbee River where rocky shoals forced the end of navigation for boats traveling north from Mobile, 67 miles to the south; as early as 1772, British surveyor Bernard Romans noted that "sloops and schooners may come up to this rapid. By 1789, with the area back under Spanish control, the governor of Mobile, Juan Vincente Folch, established a fort and outpost here. By 1796 over 190 white inhabitants settlers from the United States, their 97 or so slaves were living around the fort. With the Treaty of San Lorenzo, Spain turned the fort over to the United States government on February 5, 1799, it was included in the Mississippi Territory. The Choctaw Trading House was established in 1803 at St. Stephens. George Strother Gaines was appointed to head the Choctaw Agency in 1805, he continued to use the old Spanish blockhouse as the agency's store and established a land office in the former warehouse.
The home of the former Spanish commandant served as Gaines' residence. In 1811 Gaines constructed what may have been the first brick building built by Americans in Alabama. In 1804 Ephraim Kirby was appointed superior court judge of the Mississippi Territory by President Thomas Jefferson. In a letter to the president, Kirby described the inhabitants of St. Stephens as "illiterate and savage, of depraved morals, unworthy of public confidence or private esteems, litigious and knowing each other, universally distrustful of each other." Despite these factors, the trading post was active in the deerskin trade with the Choctaw. Pioneer minister Lorenzo Dow saw these weak points as a challenge when he was asked to leave town. Dow, in a dramatic manner, prophesied the town's demise within a century, that it would become a "roosting place for bats and owls" and a ruin in which "no stone would lie upon another."Citizens living around Fort St. Stephens requested official recognition from the Mississippi Territorial legislature, which chartered the town of St. Stephens on January 8, 1807.
The charter was amended on December 18, 1811, the settlement was renamed Saint Stephens. By 1815, the Mississippi Territorial legislature surveyed lots were sold. 40 houses were reported in the town in 1816. Following Mississippi's statehood in 1817, the Alabama Territory was established. St. Stephens served as its territorial capital from 1817 to 1819, a period that saw the town grow at an astounding rate. By 1819 St. Stephens boasted over 500 homes, its 20 stores and commercial establishments included two hotels and medical offices, a theatre. Among the prominent citizens of St. Stephens was Henry Hitchcock, first attorney general of Alabama and chief justice of the state Supreme Court. A post office was established in 1818, George Fisher carried mail between St. Stephens and Mobile. Thomas Eastin published the Halcyon and Tombeckbe Advertiser, the fourth newspaper established in the Alabama Territory. Eastin described St. Stephens as a town of elegant tree-shaded homes, spacious streets, genteel citizens.
Washington Academy, a private boys school founded in 1811, was located on a prominent hill in town. The Tombecbe Bank, the first to be chartered in the state, was established by Israel Pickens, who would become the third governor of Alabama; when the first state assembly adjourned at St. Stephens on February 14, 1818, many Alabama residents thought the capital should be moved to a more central location. Tuscaloosa was under consideration when Governor William Wyatt Bibb made the announcement in 1819 that the capital would be moved to Cahaba; this spelled certain doom for St. Stephens. In addition, the development of shallow draft boats permitted travelers to pass over the shoals and venture further upriver past the town. Lastly, yellow fever outbreaks decimated the citizenry. Within two decades, most of the remaining residents had moved less than two miles west of the river, to settle New St. Stephens. By 1833 the old town site was reduced in population to a small village; the old site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 29, 1970.
The St. Stephens Historical Commission, which oversees the Old St. Stephens Historical Park, was incorporated in 1988, with a mission of promoting and sponsoring historical research and archaeological studies of Old St. Ste
Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U. S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state. Alabama is nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird. Alabama is known as the "Heart of Dixie" and the "Cotton State"; the state tree is the longleaf pine, the state flower is the camellia. Alabama's capital is Montgomery; the largest city by population is Birmingham. The oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana. From the American Civil War until World War II, like many states in the southern U. S. suffered economic hardship, in part because of its continued dependence on agriculture. Similar to other former slave states, Alabamian legislators employed Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise and otherwise discriminate against African Americans from the end of the Reconstruction Era up until at least the 1970s.
Despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, white rural interests dominated the state legislature from 1901 to the 1960s. During this time, urban interests and African Americans were markedly under-represented. Following World War II, Alabama grew as the state's economy changed from one based on agriculture to one with diversified interests; the state's economy in the 21st century is based on management, finance, aerospace, mineral extraction, education and technology. The European-American naming of the Alabama River and state was derived from the Alabama people, a Muskogean-speaking tribe whose members lived just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers on the upper reaches of the river. In the Alabama language, the word for a person of Alabama lineage is Albaamo; the suggestion that "Alabama" was borrowed from the Choctaw language is unlikely. The word's spelling varies among historical sources; the first usage appears in three accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition of 1540: Garcilaso de la Vega used Alibamo, while the Knight of Elvas and Rodrigo Ranjel wrote Alibamu and Limamu in transliterations of the term.
As early as 1702, the French called the tribe the Alibamon, with French maps identifying the river as Rivière des Alibamons. Other spellings of the name have included Alibamu, Albama, Alibama, Alabamu, Allibamou. Sources disagree on the word's meaning; some scholars suggest the word comes from amo. The meaning may have been "clearers of the thicket" or "herb gatherers", referring to clearing land for cultivation or collecting medicinal plants; the state has numerous place names of Native American origin. However, there are no correspondingly similar words in the Alabama language. An 1842 article in the Jacksonville Republican proposed it meant "Here We Rest." This notion was popularized in the 1850s through the writings of Alexander Beaufort Meek. Experts in the Muskogean languages have not found any evidence to support such a translation. Indigenous peoples of varying cultures lived in the area for thousands of years before the advent of European colonization. Trade with the northeastern tribes by the Ohio River began during the Burial Mound Period and continued until European contact.
The agrarian Mississippian culture covered most of the state from 1000 to 1600 AD, with one of its major centers built at what is now the Moundville Archaeological Site in Moundville, Alabama. This is the second-largest complex of the classic Middle Mississippian era, after Cahokia in present-day Illinois, the center of the culture. Analysis of artifacts from archaeological excavations at Moundville were the basis of scholars' formulating the characteristics of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Contrary to popular belief, the SECC appears to have no direct links to Mesoamerican culture, but developed independently; the Ceremonial Complex represents a major component of the religion of the Mississippian peoples. Among the historical tribes of Native American people living in present-day Alabama at the time of European contact were the Cherokee, an Iroquoian language people. While part of the same large language family, the Muskogee tribes developed distinct cultures and languages. With exploration in the 16th century, the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Alabama.
The expedition of Hernando de Soto passed through Mabila and other parts of the state in 1540. More than 160 years the French founded the region's first European settlement at Old Mobile in 1702; the city was moved to the current site of Mobile in 1711. This area was claimed by the French from 1702 to 1763 as part of La Louisiane. After the French lost to the British in the Seven Years' War, it became part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1783. After the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the territory was divided between the United States and Spain; the latter retained control of this western territory from 1783 until the surrender of the Spanish garrison at Mobile to U. S. forces on April 13, 1813. Thomas Bassett, a loyalist to the British monarchy during the Revolutionary era, was one of the earliest white settlers in the state
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is applied to living organisms, most of the time to humans, it is a key geographical term. In simple terms population density refers to the number of people living in an area per kilometer square. Population density is population divided by total land water volume, as appropriate. Low densities may lead to further reduced fertility; this is called the Allee effect after the scientist. Examples of the causes in low population densities include: Increased problems with locating sexual mates Increased inbreeding For humans, population density is the number of people per unit of area quoted per square kilometer or square mile; this may be calculated for a county, country, another territory or the entire world. The world's population is around 7,500,000,000 and Earth's total area is 510,000,000 square kilometers. Therefore, the worldwide human population density is around 7,500,000,000 ÷ 510,000,000 = 14.7 per km2. If only the Earth's land area of 150,000,000 km2 is taken into account human population density is 50 per km2.
This includes all continental and island land area, including Antarctica. If Antarctica is excluded population density rises to over 55 people per km2. However, over half of the Earth's land mass consists of areas inhospitable to human habitation, such as deserts and high mountains, population tends to cluster around seaports and fresh-water sources. Thus, this number by itself does not give any helpful measurement of human population density. Several of the most densely populated territories in the world are city-states and dependencies; these territories have a small area and a high urbanization level, with an economically specialized city population drawing on rural resources outside the area, illustrating the difference between high population density and overpopulation The potential to maintain the agricultural aspects of deserts is limited as there is not enough precipitation to support a sustainable land. The population in these areas are low. Therefore, cities in the Middle East, such as Dubai, have been increasing in population and infrastructure growth at a fast pace.
Cities with high population densities are, by some, considered to be overpopulated, though this will depend on factors like quality of housing and infrastructure and access to resources. Most of the most densely populated cities are in Southeast Asia, though Cairo and Lagos in Africa fall into this category. City population and area are, however dependent on the definition of "urban area" used: densities are invariably higher for the central city area than when suburban settlements and the intervening rural areas are included, as in the areas of agglomeration or metropolitan area, the latter sometimes including neighboring cities. For instance, Milwaukee has a greater population density when just the inner city is measured, the surrounding suburbs excluded. In comparison, based on a world population of seven billion, the world's inhabitants, as a loose crowd taking up ten square feet per person, would occupy a space a little larger than Delaware's land area; the Gaza Strip has a population density of 5,046 pop/km.
Although arithmetic density is the most common way of measuring population density, several other methods have been developed to provide a more accurate measure of population density over a specific area. Arithmetic density: The total number of people / area of land Physiological density: The total population / area of arable land Agricultural density: The total rural population / area of arable land Residential density: The number of people living in an urban area / area of residential land Urban density: The number of people inhabiting an urban area / total area of urban land Ecological optimum: The density of population that can be supported by the natural resources Demography Human geography Idealized population Optimum population Population genetics Population health Population momentum Population pyramid Rural transport problem Small population size Distance sampling List of population concern organizations List of countries by population density List of cities by population density List of city districts by population density List of English districts by population density List of European cities proper by population density List of United States cities by population density List of islands by population density List of U.
S. states by population density List of Australian suburbs by population density Selected Current and Historic City, Ward & Neighborhood Density Duncan Smith / UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. "World Population Density". Exploratory map shows data from the Global Human Settlement Layer produced by the European Commission JRC and the CIESIN Columbia University
A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, Romania and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, in Jamaica. In most of the United States, counties are the political subdivisions of a state; the city, town, or populated place that houses county government is known as the seat of its respective county. The county legislature, county courthouse, sheriff's department headquarters, hall of records and correctional facility are located in the county seat though some functions may be located or conducted in other parts of the county if it is geographically large. A county seat is but not always, an incorporated municipality; the exceptions include the county seats of counties that have no incorporated municipalities within their borders, such as Arlington County, Virginia. Ellicott City, the county seat of Howard County, is the largest unincorporated county seat in the United States, followed by Towson, the county seat of Baltimore County, Maryland.
Some county seats may not be incorporated in their own right, but are located within incorporated municipalities. For example, Cape May Court House, New Jersey, though unincorporated, is a section of Middle Township, an incorporated municipality. In some of the colonial states, county seats include or included "Court House" as part of their name. In the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the term "shire town" is used in place of county seat. County seats in Taiwan are the administrative centers of the counties. There are 13 county seats in Taiwan, which are in the forms of county-administered city, urban township or rural township. Most counties have only one county seat. However, some counties in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont have two or more county seats located on opposite sides of the county. An example is Harrison County, which lists both Biloxi and Gulfport as county seats; the practice of multiple county seat towns dates from the days.
There have been few efforts to eliminate the two-seat arrangement, since a county seat is a source of pride for the towns involved. There are 36 counties with multiple county seats in 11 states: Coffee County, Alabama St. Clair County, Alabama Arkansas County, Arkansas Carroll County, Arkansas Clay County, Arkansas Craighead County, Arkansas Franklin County, Arkansas Logan County, Arkansas Mississippi County, Arkansas Prairie County, Arkansas Sebastian County, Arkansas Yell County, Arkansas Columbia County, Georgia Lee County, Iowa Campbell County, Kentucky Kenton County, Kentucky Essex County, Massachusetts Middlesex County, Massachusetts Plymouth County, Massachusetts Bolivar County, Mississippi Carroll County, Mississippi Chickasaw County, Mississippi Harrison County, Mississippi Hinds County, Mississippi Jasper County, Mississippi Jones County, Mississippi Panola County, Mississippi Tallahatchie County, Mississippi Yalobusha County, Mississippi Jackson County, Missouri Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Seneca County, New York Bennington County, Vermont In New England, the town, not the county, is the primary division of local government.
Counties in this region have served as dividing lines for the states' judicial systems. Connecticut and Rhode Island have no county level of thus no county seats. In Vermont and Maine the county seats are designated shire towns. County government consists only of a Superior Court and Sheriff, both located in the respective shire town. Bennington County has two shire towns. In Massachusetts, most government functions which would otherwise be performed by county governments in other states are performed by town or city governments; as such, Massachusetts has dissolved many of its county governments, the state government now operates the registries of deeds and sheriff's offices in those counties. In Virginia, a county seat may be an independent city surrounded by, but not part of, the county of which it is the administrative center. Two counties in South Dakota have their county seat and government services centered in a neighboring county, their county-level services are provided by Fall River Tripp County, respectively.
In Louisiana, divided into parishes rather than counties, county seats are referred to as parish seats. Alaska is divided into boroughs rather than counties; the Unorganized Borough, which covers 49 % of Alaska's area, has equivalent. The state with the most counties is Texas, with 254, the state with the fewest counties is Delaware, with 3. County seat war Administrative center County town, administrative centres in Ireland and the UK Chef-lieu, administrative centres in Algeria, Luxembourg, France and Tunisia Municipality, equivalent to county in many c
Marriage called matrimony or wedlock, is a or ritually recognised union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions, but throughout the history of any given culture and religion, evolving to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity; when defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. A marriage ceremony is known as a wedding. Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, libidinal, financial and religious purposes. Whom they marry may be influenced by gender determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire.
In some areas of the world, arranged marriage, child marriage and sometimes forced marriage, may be practiced as a cultural tradition. Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalized in parts of the world out of concerns of the infringement of women's rights, or the infringement of children's rights, because of international law. Around the world in developed democracies, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights within marriage for women and recognizing the marriages of interfaith and same-sex couples; these trends coincide with the broader human rights movement. Marriage can be recognized by a state, an organization, a religious authority, a tribal group, a local community, or peers, it is viewed as a contract. When a marriage is performed and carried out by a government institution in accordance with the marriage laws of the jurisdiction, without religious content, it is a civil marriage. Civil marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before the state.
When a marriage is performed with religious content under the auspices of a religious institution it is a religious marriage. Religious marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before that religion. Religious marriage is known variously as sacramental marriage in Catholicism, nikah in Islam, nissuin in Judaism, various other names in other faith traditions, each with their own constraints as to what constitutes, who can enter into, a valid religious marriage; some countries do not recognize locally performed religious marriage on its own, require a separate civil marriage for official purposes. Conversely, civil marriage does not exist in some countries governed by a religious legal system, such as Saudi Arabia, where marriages contracted abroad might not be recognized if they were contracted contrary to Saudi interpretations of Islamic religious law. In countries governed by a mixed secular-religious legal system, such as in Lebanon and Israel, locally performed civil marriage does not exist within the country, preventing interfaith and various other marriages contradicting religious laws from being entered into in the country, civil marriages performed abroad are recognized by the state if they conflict with religious laws.
The act of marriage creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved, any offspring they may produce or adopt. In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and a diminishing number of these permit polygyny, child marriages, forced marriages. In modern times, a growing number of countries developed democracies, have lifted bans on and have established legal recognition for the marriages of interfaith and same-sex couples; some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through annulment. In some areas, child marriages and polygamy may occur in spite of national laws against the practice. Since the late twentieth century, major social changes in Western countries have led to changes in the demographics of marriage, with the age of first marriage increasing, fewer people marrying, more couples choosing to cohabit rather than marry. For example, the number of marriages in Europe decreased by 30% from 1975 to 2005.
In most cultures, married women had few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family's children, the property of the husband. In Europe, the United States, other places in the developed world, beginning in the late 19th century and lasting through the 21st century, marriage has undergone gradual legal changes, aimed at improving the rights of the wife; these changes included giving wives legal identities of their own, abolishing the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives, giving wives property rights, liberalizing divorce laws, providing wives with reproductive rights of their own, requiring a wife's consent when sexual relations occur. These changes have occurred in Western countries. In the 21st century, there continue to be controversies regarding the legal status of married women, legal acceptance of or leniency towards violence within marriage, traditional marriage customs such as dowry and bride price, for