Divorce rates for men in Louisiana and other Southern states are higher than the U.S. average, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.
The divorce rate for men in Louisiana is 11 men per 1,000 while the national divorce rate for men is 9.2 men per 1,000, according to the report.
“Marital Events of Americans: 2009” provided the statistics.
The report examines marriage and divorce in the nation by looking at marital events among Americans ages 15 years and older.
The information in the report comes from data gathered in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, a questionnaire sent out every month.
Diana Elliott, a Census Bureau family demographer, said divorce rates tend to be higher in the South because marriage rates are also higher.
Divorce rates for men in the Northeast in such states as Connecticut and Massachusetts tend to be lower than the U.S. average, according to the report.
Christine Belaire, a Baton Rouge marriage and family therapist, said marriage in Louisiana and other states in the South is a cultural phenomenon in some respects.
“It’s more expected here for men to be married. Also, if you have more marriages, you will have more divorces,” Belaire said.
LSU demographer and sociology professor Troy Blanchard said there are higher rates of marriage at a younger age in the South because of how marriage is perceived in the Bible Belt and lower educational attainment.
The report states that the marriage rate per 1,000 men in Louisiana is 20.6 while the national marriage rate for men per 1,000 is 19.1.
The marriage rate per 1,000 women in Louisiana is 17.6, the exact same rate for women nationally.
The divorce rate per 1,000 women in Louisiana is 10 while the national rate of divorce per 1,000 women is 9.7.
According to the report, people in general are now waiting longer to get married.
In 1970, the median age of first marriages for men was 22.5 and for women, 20.6, according to the report.
In 2009, the median age of first marriages was about 6 years older than in 1970, 28.4 for men and 26.5 for women, the report says.
The proportion of women who first marry when they are teenagers has gone down considerably, according to the report.
In 1970, 42 percent of women marrying for the first time were teenagers. In 2009, only 7 percent of women were teenagers when marrying.
In 1970, 88 percent of women had a first marriage by age 24 compared to 28 percent of similar women in 2009, according to the report.
Blanchard said the age of people getting married increasing over time is in part because of higher educational opportunities and a wider cultural acceptance of people living together without marrying.
“There was a time when women went to college because they wanted to get married and college was sort of a marriage market,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard said a life without marriage is much more accepted by women.
Belaire said a woman’s life today can be more about job opportunities.
“In the old days, it was expected you get married and stay home. Now women do so much more. Women work and enjoy life,” Belaire said.
Belaire said women today spend time searching for what they want while many men are more family-oriented today than in the past.
Belaire said the biggest trend she has noticed over time as a marriage therapist over the past decade is the negative impact of social media on marriage.
“All social media - Facebook, texting, emailing - all makes it easier for people to go outside of marriage and network socially to talk to other people,” Belaire said.
Belaire said couples that seek her help today talk more frequently than 10 years ago about spouses that use social media to go outside the marriage.
Rates per 1,000 men and women ages 15 and over in 2009:
Source: U.S. Census Bureau