New census data shows that US divorce rates vary significantly by state. And some of the most conservative states in the country actually have the highest rates of marital breakdown.
According to the Huffington Post, the South and West were the country's most divorce-prone regions, with Alaska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Nevada reporting the highest divorce rates. The Northeast (with the exception of Maine) reported the lowest rates — New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York were especially divorce-proof. Says sociologist Andrew Cherlin,
Surprisingly, the South and West, which we think of as more socially conservative, have higher rates of divorce than does the supposedly liberal East. The reason is that young adults in the South and West tend to have less education and marry earlier, both of which lead to a higher risk of divorce.
He also notes that "the South and West also have many migrants from other parts of the region who have left their social support networks behind. When they have marital problems, they have fewer people to turn to for help." It's worth noting that despite recent advice that women should marry young for ultimate happiness, this research shows that people who marry later have stronger unions. Also, of the four states with the lowest divorce rates, three allow gay marriage. So maybe the gays aren't destroying the traditional family after all?