Another North-South divide

There is an interesting report out this morning concerning family life in the United States. The information comes via a new geographic analysis from a University of Virginia sociologist, W. Bradford Wilcox, and a psychologist, Nicholas Zill. They did the analysis after reading recent information about upward mobility and marriage and realizing that the geography of the American family differed from the standard perception of it.

In spite of the lip service that they give to family values, in general, politically conservative states have some of the highest divorce rates. On the other hand, bastions of liberalism like California, the Northeast, Illinois, for example, have notably low divorce rates. 

What Wilcox and Zill found in their analysis, though, is that two-parent households are not just a blue state/red state issue. Rather, it seems to be more a North-South divide. An arc of states right across the northern half of the country make up the high-percentage states, while the southern half falls mostly in the lower percentages.

Their data show the percentage of children in each state that live with both biological parents in a married relationship. Those states with the highest percentages of children living in such households include a mixture of both blue and red states. The states on the lower end of the spectrum also include such a mixture, although the ten states with the lowest percentages are mostly red.

There seems to be a connection also between the levels of education and family income and the percentage of two-parent households. In the blue states, in particular, Americans tend to get more education and earn higher incomes. The red states with high percentages of two-parent households have educational attainment that is closer to average, but their residents are more likely to have religious commitments to marriage and raising children within marriage.

You can read the whole story in The New York Times and see an interactive map which shows the percentages of two-parent households in each state. Find out how your state fares. 

Here is a listing of the ten highest and lowest states that the analysis found.

States with the highest rates of children in two-parent households.*
New Jersey54%
New Hampshire53%
North Dakota53%

States with the lowest rates of children in two-parent households.*
South Carolina39%
New Mexico39%
By Kim Soffen


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