On Thursday, April 27, Brian Serafini will be presenting our joint work “Beyond the Urban Core: How Place, Conservative Protestantism and Precarity Affect Divorce Filing Rates” at the upcoming annual meeting of the Population Association of America. This paper is co-authored by Brian Serafini, Julie Brines, and Daiki Hiramori.
Title: Beyond the Urban Core: How Place, Conservative Protestantism and Precarity Affect Divorce Filing Rates
Abstract: Why are divorce rates in non-metropolitan areas within the U.S. approaching those of the urban core? Recent evidence suggests that non-urban regions exhibit higher rates of conservative Protestantism, encouraging early transitions into marriage and childbearing that elevate the risk of divorce. Other work suggests that non-metropolitan regions have suffered acute declines in labor force attachment among less-educated workers, accompanied by a “casualization” of family relations that may jeopardize marital stability. Using 15 years of monthly data on county divorce filings in Washington State, we examine both perspectives. We find that less “metropolitan” counties tend to have higher divorce rates, but that higher rates of evangelical Protestantism explain this finding only for divorces not involving young children. County-level measures of educational attainment and manufacturing employment affect filing rates in ways consistent with the “casualization” hypothesis, but among couples with children, these factors do not explain persistently-higher divorce rates in non-metropolitan counties.