Divorce: Rural America Catches Up

Many people think that rural America enjoys a Garden-of-Eden innocence from divorce. At one time, rural American divorced much less frequently than those who lived in cities. No more. In divorce, rural America has caught up.

The geographic distinction have now all but vanished and now, “for the first time, rural Americans are just as likely to be divorced as city dwellers,” according to a recent analysis by The New York Times.

Places like Sioux County, Iowa, which had a divorce rate as recently as 1970 so low “that it resembled the rest of America in the 1910s,” now mirror the rest of America. Since 1970, the county has seen a sevenfold increase in divorce - “giving the county the unwelcome distinction of being a standout in this category in census data.”

“Rural families are going through this incredible transformation,” said Daniel T. Lichter, a professor of sociology at Cornell University. Shifts in values - women working and “gaining autonomy and rearranging the order of traditional families” have spread from cities to rural places. Moreover, blue-collar men have lost ground in the last 40 years, even as women have made gains.

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