The party and the religion that preaches family values, it turns out, is the least likely to keep their families together.
A new study, which appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, confirmed what many of us have suspected all along – while red-state voters are busy blaming LGBT people for the decline of the family, their divorce rates are significantly higher than those of people in Democratic areas.
Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates in the U.S., at 13 divorces per 1000 people per year. Nevada has the highest divorce rate, but it’s also the state where it’s easiest to get a divorce. By contrast, blue New Jersey and Massachusetts have only 6 and 7 divorces per 1,000 people per year, or about half the rate.
The study is quick to note that the findings could be attributed to something other than religion. For example, in the rural Southern red-states, poverty is higher than in many parts of the nation and poverty puts stress on marriages. The scientists admit, though, that poverty can’t account for that much of a different in divorce rates.
So, they turned to the idea that since they were religious, it’s possible that people were marrying too young, not living together and getting to know each other, but there is no evidence that prenuptial cohabitation has anything to do with more successful marriages.
The scientists also considered another factor, and that’s that despite the fact that the vast majority of Southerners are religious, there is also a high rate of violence. They ruled that out as well.
What the researchers did find, however, is that the phenomenon doesn’t just affect religious people. It seems that the religious culture, whether or not a person believes, influences everyone’s lifestyle. They did attribute the divorce rate, in part, to the fact that so many people marry young and that so many people are low income, and that crosses religious lines in the South.
Young people of every religious belief—or none—are influenced by cultural climate. Glass and Levchak believe that this comes from living in a cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support from schools or community institutions for young people to get more education and postpone marriage and children. Abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control and abortion, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of secular education (especially higher education) among the populace in religiously conservative counties work to create an environment where young people of every religious belief – or none – tend not to pursue higher education or job training, and instead to engage in early marriage and child-bearing.
Oh, and there’s one other thing. It seems that legal and available abortion helps strengthen marriage. When people don’t enter into a marriage at the barrel of a shotgun, there’s a better chance they’ll stay married. Imagine that.
Featured image via Pixabay.