The Mason-Dixon line of modern families

So, this from Dave Leonhardt is really interesting, not a blue-red divide, but a clear North-South divide on the percentage of children living in two-parent families.


But it is related to politics in a way:

The new geographic analysis comes from W. Bradford Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist, and Nicholas Zill, a psychologist. They did the analysis, they said, after reading recent Upshot articles on upward mobilityand marriage — and realizing that the geography of American family was somewhat different from the conventional wisdom…

Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Zill argue that 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 Minnesota, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, at least 51 percent of teenagers are being raised by both biological parents, among the highest rates in the nation. (That figure excludes families in which the two parents are together without being married; such arrangements are still rare — and less likely to last than marriages.)

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,” write Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Zill, in a paper for the Institute for Family Studies. This model applies across much of the Great Plains and Mountain West, including Nebraska and Utah.

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…

It’s another sign that the North is faring better, on average, than the South today, whether the yardstick is income, education, life expectancy or family structure. And the various gaps then reinforce each other. Higher-earning families have an easier time remaining intact — but intact families are also more likely to produce children who are healthy, educated and ultimately higher earning.

Anyway, good stuff.  Some more good social science discussion if you read the full article.



Photo of the day

Slow blogging this week (but oh-so-many quick hits to come) due to a trip up to Northern Virginia for my niece’s high school graduation.  She graduated from Battlefield High School, meaning we were right by the Bull Run Battlefield in Manassas, VA.  Had a great trip visiting the national park with my family.  Here’s one of my favorite shots (there’s just something about a lone tree).


Henry Hill at Mansassas National Battlefield Park.  Steven Greene

%d bloggers like this: