A study indicates that “simply living in an area with a large concentration of conservative Protestants increases the chances of divorce, even for those who are not themselves conservative Protestants”:
According to researchers who took into account race, income and other factors, marriage and fertility trends that are common among conservative Protestants — younger marriage, more kids, less higher education — affect all people in areas most populated by conservative Protestants, no matter their personal religious affiliation.
“Conservative Protestant community norms and the institutions they create seem to increase divorce risk,” researchers say in the study. For example, those who are struggling in their marriage may feel discouraged to find help in communities where marriage is idealized or marital failure is viewed as shameful, the researchers suggest.
George Chidi adds:
The strongest correlation showed that early marriage and low income among religious conservatives factor into the higher divorce rates. “Unpacking these variations, [demographers Jennifer] Glass and [Philip] Levchak found that the high divorce rate among conservative religious groups is indeed explained in large part by the earlier ages at first marriage and first birth, and the lower educational attainment and lower incomes of conservative Protestant youth,” the authors wrote.