by Max Brantley
A new Census analysis finds — again — that people in the Bible Belt (this includes Arkansas) divorce more often. But, hey, they marry more often, too. From CNN:
Youth and lack of education can lead to higher divorce rates, said D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer with the Pew Research Center, who wrote a report on "The States of Marriage and Divorce." There's also an interactive map on the website. (It shows Arkansas ahead of the U.S. in divorce rates, younger marriages and double the percentage of people — 10 percent here vs. 5 percent nationally — who've been married three or more times.)
"There tend to be higher divorce rates in states where women marry young," Cohn said. "Education also may play a role. In general, less educated women marry at younger ages than college-educated women, and less educated couples have higher divorce rates."
Values about premarital sex associated with the Bible Belt and rural America may be encouraging people to marry early, at ages when they are likely to have less education and less income to support a long-lasting marriage, according to Naomi Cahn, law professor at The George Washington University Law School and co-author of "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture."
"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 Cahn. "There is enormous tension between moral values and actual practices."
COINCIDENTALLY: This finding comes as the University of Arkansas announces poll results that in many ways show shrinking differences between the South and other regions. One major exception continues to be religion, with 41 percent of Southerners believing the Bible is the literal word of God versus 31 percent of non-Southerners. Full Blair-Rockefeller poll here. Shrinking differences could alter perceptions about Southern voting patterns. Or not.