Marital and civil partnership status

Mnemonic (reference code): MARSTAT

Type: Primary variable

Definition: Marital and civil partnership status classifies an individual according to their legal marital or registered same-sex civil partnership status as at 27th March 2011. This topic was included in the 2001 Census but it has to be revised in order to take account of registered same-sex partnerships after the adoption of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Applicability: Person





Never married and never registered a same-sex civil partnership




Separated, but still legally married






In a registered same-sex civil partnership


Separated, but still legally in a same-sex civil partnership


Formerly in a same-sex civil partnership which is now legally dissolved


Surviving partner from a same-sex civil partnership


No code required

Total number of categories: 10

Not applicable category (XX) comprises: Persons aged under 16 and schoolchildren and full-time students living away from home during term time.

Source question:

Image of Scottish question 4 from 2011

Reason for asking: The question on marital status is an essential one for producing statistical information on population. Combined with other variables, such as age and gender, this information is used to calculate things such as mortality, fertility and marriage and divorce rates.

This information is further used to observe trends and life expectancy, the make-up of households that allows the Government and policy makers to put in place welfare reforms in areas such as planning accommodation and services for the groups of people in need.

England & Wales (2011) and Scotland (2001) comparisons:

Image of E & W question 4 from 2011

England and Wales Census 2011

Image of Scottish question 4 from 2001

Scotland Census 2001

Known quality issues: There is evidence that the Census data is not accurate for civil partnership categories.  The main effect is an over count of civil partnership relationships in older age groups.

This was discovered when examining the age distribution of the categories of marital status. The issue was confirmed by comparing the responses with other details on the census form, including relationship information and the gender of the household members.  In addition, a sample of records were matched at an individual level to registration data held by NRS and this also suggested an overcount in the older age groups.

The possible reasons for this will be investigated and published as part of the 2011 Census evaluation.

The edit and imputation process changed the reported marital status in a number of older people living in households with other people. This did not affect older people living in single households, as it used data about other household members, and so there was still an implausible age distribution in this category.

The published tables have combined the following marital status and corresponding civil partnership categories to avoid misunderstanding of users:

  • ‘Separated, but still legally married’ and ‘Separated, but still legally in a same-sex civil Partnership’
  • ‘Divorced’ and ‘Formerly in a same-sex civil partnership which is now legally dissolved’
  • ‘Widowed’ and ‘Surviving partner from a same-sex civil partnership’


To see which of our published standard, additional and commissioned tables use this variable please use the Table Index.