Children growing up in the Northern part of the United
States are much more likely to have both parents in the same household than
children growing up in the Southern part. A new analysis of census data found
this North-South divide.
The divide of two-parent families versus single-parent
families isn't a political one. It is distinctly geographical, as found in
analysis from W. Bradford Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist, and
Nicholas Zill, a psychologist. The two began their analysis after reading new
articles about upward mobility and marriage, and how they relate to
geographical location in the U.S.
Their results clearly show the divide of where the two main
types of families are found in the U.S. Surprisingly, Southern states that
typically are considered to have more strict "family values" are where single-parent families are mainly
located. Northern states, where there are statistically higher levels of education and
income on average, are more likely to have two-parent families.
The data only shows
children living with both biological parents, not counting children adopted as
babies or children with same-sex parents. The changes if this data were included
are not expected to be significant since a small percentage of children are
Two-parent families are found mainly in the Midwest,
through the Dakotas, onto the Great Lakes states and further east into New
England. Single-parent families are large in Nevada and New Mexico, extending
east into the Deep South states of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and
The data from this analysis could be skewed for several reasons. Both the
number of marriages and divorces has declined in recent years. The number of
single parents and subsequently, the number of children who never live with
both of their parents, has risen in contrast.
There is also the factor of children living with one parent
and the partner of that parent. These households are still considered to be
single-parent, even though there are two adults in the home. This family
structure is also reportedly unstable, because there are not two biological parents in the
partnership, giving the partner greater leniency to leave at any time.
There is still a lot to learn about the effect on children
of growing up with one parent versus growing up with two parents. However, according to Wilcox, most
children tend to do better in a household with both parents, which is a more
predominant family structure in the North.