Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, October 17, 2005

Political Divide: Marriages and Births

"When it comes to marriage and babies, the red states really are different from the blue states, according to a new Census Bureau analysis of marriage, fertility and socioeconomic characteristics. People in the Northeast marry later and are more likely to live together without marriage and less likely to become teenage mothers than are people in the South.The bureau's analysis, based on a sample of more than three million households from the American Community Survey data of 2000-3, is the first to examine the data by state.

"There are marked regional differences, said Jane Dye, the bureau researcher who did the study, with Tallese Johnson. Generally, men and women in the Northeast marry later than those in the Midwest, West or South. In New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, for example, the median age of first marriage is about 29 for men and 26 or 27 for women, about four years later than in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah. And tracking the red state-blue state divide, those in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin follow the Northeast patterns, not those of their region.

Nationally, the age of first marriage has been rising since 1970. But because this is the first state-by-state analysis the Census Bureau has done, the authors of the study said, it is impossible to say whether the early-marrying states are moving in the same direction, and at the same pace, as the later-marrying ones. . . .

Generally, the study found, states in the Northeast and the West had a higher percentage of unmarried-partner households than those in the South, In Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, unmarried couples made up more than 7 percent of all coupled households, about the twice the proportion of such households in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.

On teenage births, the same differences become clear. In New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, about 5 percent of babies are born to teenage mothers, while in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming, 10 percent or more of all births are to teenage mothers. The study also found that the percentage of births to unmarried mothers was highest in the South." By Tamar Lewin, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 10-16-05 NVS)

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Tracked on Oct 23, 2005 7:06:01 PM