Americans who live in the south are more likely to get divorced than residents of the northeast, according to the Barna Group, a religious think-tank in Ventura, Calif. According to the group, only 19 percent of those who marry in the northeast get divorced. The figure for the south is 27 percent, the same as the Midwest. It’s a point less, at 26 percent, for Americans who live in the west.
The divorce rate in southern states averages 5.1 percent per 1,000 people. This average rate in the northeastern states is 3.5 percent per 1,000. Nationally, the average is 4.1 percent 1,000. “People who stay put and don’t move are less likely to divorce than people that move, like the people out west. That’s one of the reasons the divorce rate in the northeast is lower, they stay put,” said Professor David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. The National Center for Health Statistics says that Massachusetts had the lowest divorce rate in the nation. The other states with the lowest divorce rates in the U.S. are: Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania. The states with the highest divorce rates include Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming. Studies and experts say southern states may have higher divorce rates because:
- Couples in the south marry younger, and younger couples are more likely to divorce.
- Fewer Catholics live in the south, and it’s still difficult to divorce and remarry in the Catholic Church because it requires an annulment process for anyone previously married in Catholic Church.
- Family income in the south is lower than in the northeast, and couples with a lower income have a higher divorce rate.
- The level of education is lower in the south than the northeast, and couples with a lower education level have a higher divorce rate.
“The big factor in divorce is a person’s level of education. The higher their level of education, the lower the divorce rate. That’s one reason atheists have one of the lowest divorce rates. Atheists tend to be highly educated people. That’s the story in the nut shell,” Popenoe said.