Religious Conservatives - And Their Neighbors - More Likely to Divorce, Study Finds


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A new study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology tackles the "puzzling paradox" of why divorce is more common in religiously conservative "red" states, and especially, why it's not only the conservative Protestants themselves who are more likely to divorce - but also their neighbors.

The LA Times reports:

Divorce is higher among religiously conservative Protestants – and even drives up divorce rates for other people living around them, a new study finds.

The study, slated to be published in the American Journal of Sociology, tackles the “puzzling paradox” of why divorce is more common in religiously conservative “red” states. If religious conservatives believe firmly in the value of marriage, why is divorce especially high in places like Alabama and Arkansas?

To figure that out, researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Iowa analyzed county divorce statistics against information from an earlier study of religious congregations. They categorized Protestant denominations that believe the Bible is literally true as "conservative Protestants."

Researchers discovered that higher divorce rates among conservative Protestants were tied to earlier marriages and childbearing – factors known to ramp up divorce. Starting families earlier tends to stop young adults from pursuing more education and depresses their wages, putting more strain on marriages, University of Texas at Austin professor Jennifer Glass said.

But the study went a step further: Glass and another researcher also discovered that people living in areas with lots of conservative Protestants were at higher risk of getting divorced, even if they weren’t conservative Protestants themselves.

Read the remainder of the LA Times article here.

See the Religion News Service's story here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5779