John C Kim and International Adoption Video

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The States of Marriage and Divorce - Pew Research Center

Correlations in Marriage Patterns

Some state-level patterns of marriage and divorce correlate3 with the overall socioeconomic characteristics and political behavior in those states. This does not mean that one pattern causes the other to happen, only that both tend to be true in the same place.

A state's education levels, for example, tend to be associated with the median age at marriage and the multiple-marriage patterns of its residents. In states with high shares of college-educated adults, men and women marry at older ages, a finding supported by other research indicating that highly educated individuals marry later in life. In states with low shares of college-educated adults, adults are more likely than average to marry three or more times. In states with low income levels, men are more likely than average to have been married three or more times.

For this analysis, correlation also was tested between a state's marriage or divorce statistics and the share of its 2008 presidential election vote that went Democratic. States with high shares of Democratic votes tended to have lower shares of currently married residents, lower shares of adults married at least three times and low rates of marriages within the previous year. Residents of states with high shares of Democratic votes tend to marry at older ages than residents of states with low shares of Democratic votes.

This analysis did not find a strong correlation between divorce statistics -- either a state's share of divorced adults or its rate of divorce within the previous year -- and socioeconomic indicators (income and education) or 2008 presidential election patterns. There was a strong correlation, however, between young age at first marriage for women and a high divorce rate for women within the previous 12 months.

Correlation also was tested to see whether a state's religiosity was associated with marriage and divorce patterns. Religiosity was expressed as the proportion of a state's residents who said in response to a survey that religion was "very important" in their life.4 However, this analysis did not find a strong association between a state's religiosity and its marriage or divorce patterns.

Explore marriage and divorce patterns and see how your state measures up using interactive maps at

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Personal Web site for John C Kim: KIDDOC.ORG

I am a pediatrician specializing in General Pediatrics, International Adoption Medicine, and in the diagnosis and coaching of families pursuing joy.