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Religious conservatism fuels divorce

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.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    I lived in North America off and on for a while, and I used to work with a hard-core Christian, we got on fine but there was no doubt that he looked down on me because I’m an atheist.
    He was married to another fine upstanding Christian who he met in bible scripture classes at his church and they had a son – he was always going on about how he was helping out his Pastor and his love of the church.

    Anyway, I went back a few years later and we were talking at lunch by his desk – all he had was a milkshake and he said that was all he could afford – it turns out that his wife dumped him and divorced him and he had almost bankrupted himself fighting for contact with his son.

    Funnily enough in that later meeting he didn’t bring up religion or his Pastor at all…

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