Religious conservatism in areas of the US leads to higher divorce rates , a new study has claimed.
Red States, Blue States, and Divorce: Understanding the Impact of Conservative Protestantism on Regional Variation in Divorce Rates examines differences in the divorce rates between so-called ‘red’ states, which typically vote Republican and are more religious and conservative in outlook, and ‘blue’ states, which usually vote Democrat and are more socially liberal.
Despite apparently greater levels of social disapproval, many red states have higher divorce rates than blue ones. Alabama and Arkansas, both red states, have the second and third highest divorce rates in the country, while blue states New Jersey and Massachusetts have two of the lowest.
The study, by demographer Jennifer Glass, examines social pressures in more conservative states which “decrease marital stability”. These include an emphasis on abstinence at the expense of contraception, disapproval of cohabitation and an expectation that people should marry early. These influences encourage women to have children at a younger age than elsewhere and also contribute to marital instability.
Such pressures even effect red state inhabitants who are not religious. Glass told the Los Angeles Times: “If you live in a marriage market where everybody marries young, you postpone marriage at your own risk. The best catches… are going to go first.”
The study is due to be published later this month in the American Journal of Sociology.