Bible Belt, Divorce Belt?

Kevin Michael Grace relates the latest figures on religion and marriage — which again show that more politically conservative Baptist and nondenominational churches often have higher rates of divorce. He also takes a skeptical look at Catholic divorce rates, which are lower than those for most Protestants but don't take into account annulments, which in the United States (where 6 percent of the world's Catholics reside but 78 percent of annulments are granted) is really just divorce by another name.

The Barna Group study that Grace cites also puts the evangelical divorce rates into perspective:

George Barna noted that one reason why the divorce statistic among non-Born again adults is not higher is that a larger proportion of that group cohabits, effectively side-stepping marriage – and divorce – altogether. “Among born again adults, 80% have been married, compared to just 69% among the non-born again segment. If the non-born again population were to marry at the same rate as the born again group, it is likely that their divorce statistic would be roughly 38% – marginally higher than that among the born again group, but still surprisingly similar in magnitude.”

What most caught my eye, though, were not the statistics on religion and divorce, but the broad generational picture:

The research revealed that Boomers continue to push the limits regarding the prevalence of divorce. Whereas just one-third (33%) of the married adults from the preceding two generations had experienced a divorce, almost half of all married Boomers (46%) have already undergone a marital split. This means Boomers are virtually certain to become the first generation for which a majority experienced a divorce.

It appears that the generation following the Boomers will reach similar heights, since more than one-quarter of the married Baby Busters (27%) have already undergone a divorce, despite the fact that the youngest one-fifth of that generation has not even reached the average age of a first marriage.

And fewer people in the rising generational cohort are getting married in the first place. I've been surprised by the number of people in my own age bracket (a few years either side of 30) who have ruled out marriage altogether. These are, so far as my own friends go, chiefly conservatives and old-fashioned libertarians, hardly the sort to thumb their noses at convention. But what I hear from many of them is that the risk of divorce, including the mulcting of income and division of estates, provides one strong disincentive against marriage, while the state of the country and the world provides another.


2 thoughts on “Bible Belt, Divorce Belt?

  1. Steve Sailer April 28, 2006 / 6:14 am

    I’ve found that the best single statistic for looking at this is the “years married” number I invented for looking at the average number of years a woman between 18 and 44 can expect to be married. For whites, it’s highest in the Mormon states, then the South. Even though divorce rates are fairly high in the South, early marriage means women are married an above average number of years.

    The measure correlates with Bush’s share of the vote in the last two elections spectacularly well.

  2. Dalton C. Rocha June 13, 2008 / 8:15 pm

    Here in Brazil, the same happens.The pentecostals are poorer, have worse living state, more crime, divorce,etc. than catholics or any other religious group with importance.Temple is money.And frauds.

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