Are More Stable Families Found in the North?

David Leonhardt: “When it comes to family arrangements, the United States has a North-South divide. Children growing up across much of the northern part of the country are much more likely to grow up with two parents than children across the South.”

“It’s not just a red-blue political divide, either. There is a kind of two-parent arc that starts in the West in Utah, runs up through the Dakotas and Minnesota and then down into New England and New Jersey. It encompasses both the conservative Mountain West and the liberal Northeast.”

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“Evidence suggests that children usually benefit from growing up with two parents. It’s probably not a coincidence, for instance, that the states with more two-parent families also have higher rates of upward mobility.”

“There are actually two models for having a large share of stable families: the blue-state model and the red-state one.”

“In the blue-state model, Americans get more education and earn higher income — and more educated, higher-earning people tend to marry and stay married … In the red-state model, educational attainment is closer to average, but ‘residents are more likely to have deep normative and religious commitments to marriage and to raising children within marriage.’”

“The lowest rates of two-parent families tend to be in states that don’t fit either model: red states with the lowest levels of education or blue states with only average levels of education.”

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