Divorce Rate Lowest in Northeast, Highest in the South

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Divorce Rate Lowest in Northeast, Highest in the South

According to the latest U.S. Census information as recent as 2009, the divorce rate is the lowest in the Northeast and the highest in the South. This all comes out of the new report the bureau is now generating, Marital Events of Americans. 2009 was the first year data was collected for this report. This document surveyed Americans 15 and older about marriage, widowhood and divorce.

Divorce rates are lower in the Northeast because people put off first marriages longer and there are less marriages occurring in that region. In the South, more marriages occur so the divorce rate is therefore higher.  The Southern states with the highest divorce rates for men were Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas. The Northeastern states with the lowest rates of divorce for men were New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Southern states with the highest divorce rates for women were Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Northeastern states with the lowest divorce rates for women were New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The report uncovered some other interesting findings. Children of divorced parents were 75% more likely to live with their mother than their father. 28% of Children whose parents divorced in 2009 were more likely to live below the poverty level. 23% of Women were more likely to need public assistance after divorce. 15% of men had a greater chance of needing public assistance. 22% of women who divorced in the last year were more likely to be in poverty, compared to 11% of men.

Previous to this report, information on marriages and divorces was collected at the state level through collecting marriage and divorce certificates. These certificates were passed on to the vital statistics system of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Then in 1996 the NCHS and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ceased collection of these records. This latest report taken up by the Census Bureau is meant to fill the gap. If you’re going through a divorce and want advice, read the book, The Divorce Survival Guide: The Roadmap for Everything from Divorce Finance to Child Custody by Calistoga Press.

Marriage Doesn’t Fight Poverty

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Marriage has been on the decline in America in recent years, particularly due to the financial strain of many households and couples. And in the wake of the Great Recession poverty has made a dramatic rise. This is particularly worrisome considering the number of children caught in poverty’s icy grasp. Some have suggested that marriage and a stable family life could provide more financial stability and less poverty, particularly child poverty. But researchers are now finding that marriage doesn’t in fact fight poverty at all. For instance, research out of Ohio State University states that over two thirds of single mothers who married divorced somewhere between 35 and 44, leading to more financial hardship than if they had just stayed single. The mates available to women in lower income areas provide little financial stability. The Ohio State researchers found no further advantages to single mothers who remarried. Though it may seem like a step in the right direction, just because a couple is married, doesn’t mean they provide a financially stable household. And how stable is the relationship? Studies have shown that children growing up in high conflict households are much worse off than single parent ones.

Instead of supporting marriage, there are lots of other ways to fight poverty. Investing in education, particularly sex education will help alleviate the problem. Financial education and how to handle money in a responsible manner could help too. Investment in free or subsidized contraception for young mothers will help stem unwanted pregnancy. More employment programs and job skills programs, investment in research and development to create new industries, paid job leave, universal daycare and preschool, raising of the minimum wage would all help stem the tide of poverty. Breakfast and lunch programs can also be essential in bringing and keeping children in school. As for marriage, there should be relationship education in schools so that students can learn about issues surrounding a healthy, stable, and happy relationship. Mentorship opportunities should also be available to single mothers with children. Putting people together who aren’t going to last, who are just going to get divorced will serve to increase the poverty issue. Instead, let’s educate people about relationships, love, marriage and children. Let’s support programs to help those in need to help themselves. And let marriage be a committed union for love as it should be instead of for financial stability which will never keep two people together or provide for a happy household. To learn more about financial hardships read, The Other America: Poverty in the United States by Michael Harrington.

Conservative Red States have Higher Divorce Rates than Blue States

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Conservative Red States have Higher Divorce Rates than Blue States

Though conservative Protestants across the board say they are against divorce, there is a marked difference between the divorce rates in conservative Protestant red states and blue states researchers out of the University of Texas at Austin found. This research goes against the common assumption that fervent religious belief strengthens marriage. Arkansas and Alabama, the third and second most religiously conservative states have the highest divorce rates in the country. By contrast Massachusetts and New Jersey have the lowest rates, only about six or seven percent per one thousand people annually. The American Journal of Sociology will publish an article soon regarding a joint study conducted by the University of Iowa’s Philip Levchak along with University of Texas demographer Jennifer Glass where these results were discovered. Levchak and Glass painstakingly went through each county in the United States examining the divorce rate in each in the year 2,000. The divorce rate was calculated per 1,000 married couples.  The traits of the county examined were also recorded. The concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in the county researchers found was a predictor of the divorce rate in that county. Though researchers have come up with this population as a predictor of a county’s divorce rate, it’s still unclear as to why. Researchers have a few ideas.

Some experts say it has nothing to do with being part of a certain religious affiliation but more to do with poverty. These happen to be concentrated in the rural South, a region with high rates of poverty and wages far lower than the national average. It is poverty they argue that contributes to divorce and their religion has nothing to do with it. There are other scholars who think that the dogma of this religious group that cohabitation is a sin makes people get married earlier, perhaps before they are ready which leads therefore to a higher divorce rate. The relationships they argue are unstable, the couple doesn’t know each other well enough and hasn’t developed the necessary communication and coping skills and so these marriages are more volatile this argument goes. In the Glass Levchak study, this factor had no weight. These researchers say, cohabitation has nothing to do with it. Some experts posited that perhaps a tolerance for increased violence within married relationships was a factor, but the Levchak and Glass study recounts that as a fallacy as well. Levchak and Glass explain that lower income, lower education, earlier marriage and an earlier first birth are the contributing factors that connect religious conservatism and a high divorce rate. Glass elaborated by saying, “Restricting sexual activity to marriage and encouraging large families seem to make young people start families earlier in life, even though that may not be best for the long-term survival of those marriages.”

University of Illinois at Chicago economist Evelyn Lehrer wrote a report earlier to the Council of Contemporary Families saying that every year a woman puts off marriage until her early thirties, she decreases her chances of suffering a divorce at some point. Another result of the Glass Levchak study however was that those merely living in conservative religious areas had a higher propensity for divorce. It turns out that no matter what background young people are from, they are influenced by the social climate in which they live, researchers say. In areas where people get married and have children young there is no outside support from social institutions or schools to put off marriage and kids. Further education and job training take a back seat to marriage and child rearing. Those marriages too that start from a pregnancy that wasn’t planned also have a higher chance of divorcing according to senior fellows Philip Cowan and Carolyn Cowan at the Council on Contemporary Families. The CCF’s and Leher’s report discuss the benefits of putting off marriage and having children until the couple is sufficiently educated and trained to have access to a quality career in order to support themselves and the children they will have.  People in these counties should pressure their elected leaders to do more to provide student loans, business and job training to the young people of these areas, so that they can support their families and preserve their historic way of life. They should also put pressure on the federal government and others to enact more programs to help the poor help themselves out of poverty. On another front, one of the biggest things couples fight about is money. If you are getting married or cohabitating with someone, talk about money without any shame or blame. Establish rules. Start healthy habits. Find ways to cut down on expenses and even save a little for the future, even if it’s just pennies every check it helps. For more pick up a copy of, Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Matt Bell.