The Mississippi marriage data is a mess, even more so than the state of Louisiana.
The state Department of Social Services, which collects the data, doesn’t keep track of who married who and why.
But it does have marriage certificates, which include information about who married whom and when.
And a lot of the marriages that are unverified are from marriages that have never been finalized, says Kathy Haines, director of the Mississippi Department of Family and Community Services.
She says that’s why her agency’s records of marriage are often incomplete.
So far, she says, they have found only about a quarter of marriages to be unofficered.
A third of those marriages are “unofficial,” and are from non-residents.
Many of the unofficials are unconfirmed marriages that involve a married couple.
“There’s a lot more of them,” she says.
In the Mississippi, people who are not married and who are divorced, unmarried or widowed are counted as married in the marriage statistics.
And the Mississippi Bureau of Vital Statistics, which is part of the state Department for Social Services and administers marriage certificates and other records, doesn, too.
So why doesn’t Mississippi report marriages in a way that’s as accurate as the Louisiana record?
It’s not the same as the state record, Hain, the director of public affairs, says.
For one thing, the Mississippi is a very big state.
In its annual report to Congress, the state reported 6.5 million people.
So it is not like Louisiana or any other state that is much smaller.
The Census Bureau reports that in Louisiana there are only 2.8 million people in the population, and in Mississippi, it’s 3.5.
“It’s a big state,” says Mark McAfee, an expert on marriage and family law at Georgetown University.
“You have a lot, if not more people in Mississippi than you have in Louisiana.
So you’re not going to have a very accurate way of saying who married what.”
A few things that are going on at the federal level are also contributing to the problems, McAfee says.
Congress passed the Marriage and Family Protection Act in 2008 to require states to collect marriage records.
The act included provisions that made it more difficult for marriage records to be verified.
The Obama administration pushed for changes to the act that would require that marriage certificates be verified, but those changes were dropped.
A similar bill was introduced in the House in 2009, but was never taken up.
The same thing happened with the federal Marriage and Federal Partnerships Act, which passed the House and the Senate in 2013.
That law requires states to track and report the number of federal partnerships and federal adoptions they have, but it doesn’t require marriage records or other related information to be reported.
In a statement to NPR, the Department of Health and Human Services says that the Obama administration has “recently reviewed the existing marriage and Federal Partner and adoptions reports in order to address potential deficiencies in these reports and to improve the integrity of these reports.”
It adds that HHS is working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a new, state-by-state, information system for reporting federal and state data.
McAfee thinks this problem will only get worse, because the federal government doesn’t really care about marriage.
“They don’t want to be the one to say, ‘Look, this is a problem, you have to fix it,'” he says.
He also worries that if more states want to improve their records, there will be no one to fix them.
“If the federal agencies and the states don’t care about marriages and adoptives and how people are living and loving their families, then the federal law that’s supposed to protect marriage and families, the law that we have to pass to protect those marriages and family relationships, is going to be broken down,” he says, “because nobody cares.”
What’s going on in Mississippi?
Read the story in National Geographic magazine.