I love the New York Times, but I’m a little frustrated with this graph I’m about to share with you. According to the statistically-minded Upshot section:
“The most striking geographical pattern on marriage, as with so many other issues today, is the partisan divide. Spending childhood nearly anywhere in blue America – especially liberal bastions like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington – makes people about 10 percentage points less likely to marry relative to the rest of the country. And no place encourages marriage quite like the conservative Mountain West, especially the heavily Mormon areas of Utah, southern Idaho and parts of Colorado.
These conclusions – based on an Upshot analysis of data compiled by a team of Harvard economists studying upward mobility, housing and tax policy – are not simply observations about correlation. The economists instead believe that they have identified a causal role that geography plays in people’s lives. The data, which covers more than five million people who moved as children in the 1980s and 1990s, suggests that children who move from, say, Idaho to Chicago really do become less likely to marry, even if the numbers can’t explain exactly why these patterns exist.”
My big issue is that this study only reports on people who are married by the age of 26!
And, in my opinion, NO ONE should be married BEFORE the age of 26.
So what is this really telling us that we don’t already know?
Red states, overall, have higher marriage rates, higher divorce rates, higher pregnancy rates, higher rates of religious belief and lower rates of higher education.
NO ONE should be married BEFORE the age of 26.
So while we can ascribe the Blue State marriage dip to different values, as the NYT seems to do in this paragraph:
“When the Pew Research Center asked last year if society was better off when people made marriage and having children a priority, 59 percent of Republicans said yes, while only 36 percent of Republicans said society was just as well off if people had other priorities. For Democrats, the shares were virtually flipped: 35 percent and 61 percent,” I think that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
People who are more educated are more likely to use birth control, more likely to strive for advanced degrees and higher career achievement – all the more reasons they would not get married before the age of 26. Almost all of my closest friends (Duke grads from the Northeast) were single at 35 and married by 38. We had careers to build and oats to sow. We didn’t want to make youthful mistakes, get divorced, have alimony and child support to pay. We were patient and wanted to get it right.
Is there more pressure to get married at a young age in red states? Probably. Are blue state residents more likely to have an open mind about carving their own path and eschewing marriage? That makes sense, too.
But since numerous studies have shown that the marriages that are most likely to succeed are ones between college-educated people over the age of 30, let’s not spend too much time worrying about why young adults from 18-26 in red states are getting married faster.
I don’t think that’s a trend that we really want to emulate.
Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.