New Study Examines Why Divorce Rates Are Higher in Conservative Protestant Regions
Despite their constant discussion about family values, Conservative Protestant counties have consistently higher divorce rates than other counties, even amongst non-Conservative Protestants. A new study examines why:
Why are divorce rates higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states? After all, most conservatives frown upon divorce, and religious commitment is believed to strengthen marriage, not erode it. Even so, religiously conservative states Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates in the U.S., at 13 per 1000 people per year while New Jersey and Massachusetts, more liberal states, are two of the lowest at 6 and 7 per 1000 people per year.
Evangelicals and divorce. For a new study appearing later this month in the American Journal of Sociology, Demographers Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Philip Levchak at the University of Iowa looked at the entire map of the United States, going county by county, to examine where divorces occurred in 2000 and what the characteristics of those counties were. Their work confirms that one of the strongest factors predicting divorce rates (per 1000 married couples) is the concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in that county.
Figure 1. Map of U.S. counties by divorce rate