Feature

Why ‘red’ states have more divorce

In the Information Age, in which education is critical to success, “moral traditionalism” backfires, said Jonathan Rauch in the National Journal.

Jonathan Rauch
National Journal

If you want to find lots of “two-parent families with stable marriages,” said Jonathan Rauch, “your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory.” That’s right: The lowest divorce rates and lowest rates of teenage pregnancy are in the secular, liberal “blue” states, while the highest rates of social dysfunction are in churchgoing “red” states with conservative values.

In a new book, family law professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone explain why: By stressing a traditional view of sex, red states pressure young people to remain abstinent until marriage. In today’s culture, many fail and become unwed mothers like Bristol Palin. To avoid that fate, others get married and start families in their early 20s, making it unrealistic for them to get college and graduate degrees. People without college educations, studies show, are more likely to get divorced, to hold low-paying jobs, and to succumb to all manner of social ills.

So in the Information Age, in which education is critical to success, “moral traditionalism” backfires. Blue state values—don’t get married until you’re equipped for responsibility—breed more stable, lasting families.

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