Monday, August 29, 2011

Texans More Likely To Marry, Divorce, Remarry, Pressure Each Other To Do The Same

It turns out that Texans (and Southerners) are more likely to marry, and to divorce, in Texas and across the South than in other parts of the country, according to new census data released today. Second marriages last longer in Texas and the South, partly because people remarry more quickly than elsewhere. This is very interesting to note in a region and state that are constantly "defending" marriage.

These recent statistics come from the 2009 American Community Survey, which attempt to offer more detail about marriage, divorce and widowhood. The report complements the detailed data being released from the 2010 Census, which offers a window onto modern family life. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The median age of first marriage has risen sharply nationwide, up to 28.4 for men and 26.5 for women in 2009, compared with 22.5 and 20.6 respectively in 1970.
  • People in the Northeast wait longer to marry and, after a divorce, are less likely to remarry.
  • Those in the South, which includes Texas, marry at a younger age and remarry more quickly.
  • Higher marriage rates are inextricably linked to higher divorce rates.
  • People in the Northeast and on the West Coast are more likely to live together than those in the South and Midwest, so their break ups constitute a "non-statistic", without legal documentation to show for it.

As someone who was raised in the Northeast and began adulthood on the West Coast, I can assert that Texas is definitely the place I've felt the most societal pressure to marry my long-term partner. I have met many people in their 20s and 30s, regardless of political affiliation or social conservativeness who desire to marry, and imminently, even if they aren't in relationships (especially if they aren't in relationships). It's also a place where I've met a lot of people in the same age group have been divorced or are contemplating it, which surprises me - no kids or mid-life crises to drive spouses apart. That's not empirical evidence, but it's certainly interesting to see.

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