Divorce rates were higher in the South than any other region of the country, according to a Census Bureau report released Thursday.
The rates of 10.2 percent for men and 11.1 for women was above the national average of 9.2 and 9.7 respectively, the bureau noted in its report entitled “Marital Events of Americans: 2009,” which was based on information collected in the bureau’s annual American Community Survey.
Census officials said it was the first study of its kind to “describe the detailed characteristics of marital events among Americans ages 15 and older.”
The area of the country with the lowest divorce rates was the Northeast, which registered 7.2 percent for men and 7.5 percent for women in 2009.
According to the report, 14 states had divorce rates for men that were “significantly above the U.S. average,” ranging from 10 percent to 13.5 percent. The study also found that the divorce rate for men was higher than average in Southern states, especially Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and in Oklahoma and Texas.
Likewise, 14 states registered divorce rates for women higher than average, ranging from 10.7 percent to 16.7 percent, with the highest number of divorces coming from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Oklahoma and Texas.
The higher rates in the South did not come as a surprise to census officials.
“Divorce rates tend to be higher in the South because marriage rates are also higher in the South,” said Diana Elliott, a family demographer at the Census Bureau. “In contrast, in the Northeast, first marriages tend to be delayed and the marriage rates are lower, meaning there are also fewer divorces.”
Among some the other findings in the report:
• Married couples in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania seem to get along a little better. They had divorce rates lower than the U.S. average.
• 75 percent of children of divorce in 2009 lived with their mother; 28 percent also ended up in households with incomes below the poverty line.
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