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Family Values? Divorce Rate in South Higher than Northeast

You hear it all the time, about the good old-fashioned family values of the South versus those liberal, hedonistic monsters in the Northeast. Well guess what? The divorce rate in the South is higher -- much higher -- than in the Northeast.

CNN reports on the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. It found that the divorce rate in the South is 10.2 per 1,000 for men and 11.1 per 1,000 for women.

In the big bad Northeast the numbers are 7.2 and 7.5 for men and women respectively. Not only is it lower than the South, it is lower than the national average of 9.2 and 9.7.

So what gives?

"In the South, there are higher rates of marriage and higher rates of divorce for men and women," said report co-author Diana Elliott, a family demographer with the Census Bureau. "In the Northeast, you have people who are delaying first marriages, and consequently there are lower rates of marriage and lower rates of divorce."

But why are people in the South marrying earlier in life and subsequently divorcing? Experts point to education and views on pre-marital sex. In the Bible-thumping South, sex before marriage is frowned-upon, leading people to get married earlier.

"There's a moral crisis in red states that's produced by higher divorce rates and the disparity between parental values and behavior of young adults," said Naomi Cahn, a law professor and co-author of "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture." "There is enormous tension between moral values and actual practices."

As far as education, "In general, less educated women marry at younger ages than college-educated women, and less educated couples have higher divorce rates." said D'Vera Cohn, who wrote a report called "the States of Marriage and Divorce" for the Pew Research Center.


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