Red States Lead the Nation in Divorce

Fourteen of the 20 states with the highest divorce rates are red

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A Census Bureau analysis published yesterday has picked up some attention on among a certain (read: liberal) segment of the Internet. According to the latest figures from 2009, married couples in conservative states tend to divorce at higher rates than more liberal ones. To make a hard figure out of it: of the 20 states with the highest divorce rates, 14 voted for John McCain in 2008. The states where people call it quits the most frequently are Arkansas, Maine, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, and Alaska.

The Associated Press picked up on the red states' tendencies for higher divorce rates, quoting a sociology professor as saying, "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." Left-leaning AlterNet notes the irony that the social conservatism touted by politicians there don't make marriages last: "in many states where politicians claim that their constituents are the most family values oriented 'real Americans' who are afraid of the sanctity of marriage being trampled by the gays, the divorce rates are actually higher." Jezebel plays off of that theme by offering an alternation explanation to the red-blue divorce divide: gay marriage. It writes: "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?" (Really, it's of the four states or districts--namely, New Jersey, D.C., New York, and Connecticut--with the lowest divorce rates.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.