Sunday, June 28, 2009

Republican states lead in divorce, teen pregnancy, and porn subscriptions

Charles Blow has an op-ed piece in yesterday's The New York Times commenting on the spate of recent Republican sex scandals which contains this infographic (an aptly named "blowchart") ranking the states based on divorce rates, teen pregnancy rates, and subscriptions to online porn sites as a percentage of broadband subscribers.

Blow suggests that conservatives address this hypocrisy by becoming more concerned about what goes on in their own bedrooms than in everyone else's. It also highlights the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education.

(BTW, the data for the third column comes from the work of Ben Edelman (PDF), who I've cited here before for his excellent work on spyware and adware, and on the ineffectiveness of TRUSTe.)

UPDATE (June 30, 2009): There's at least one error in this chart, in that Tennessee should be red, not blue, near the bottom of the broadband porn column.


Ktisophilos said...

Probably just like crime: blue counties in red states are largely responsible for the higher figures, while "blue states" are really red states with huge blue cities.

As for sex ed, as Thomas Sowell points out in The Vision of the Anointed (summarized by his friend and fellow economist Dr Walter Williams):

‘In the early 60s, Planned Parenthood and other groups convinced the nation there was a "crisis" in teen pregnancy and venereal disease. They got Congress to give them our money to sponsor sex education (read: indoctrination) classes, often showing films to junior high school students depicting hetero- homosexual couples engaged in sex; teenage birth control clinics were set up and condom distribution programs started.

‘Was there a crisis in the first place? Since 1950, teenage fertility rates had been declining as were venereal disease rates. By 1960 syphilis and gonorrhea infections were less than half of what they were in 1950. We all know the story after "sex education." Teen pregnancy rose from 68 per thousand in 1970 to 96 per thousand by 1980. Venereal disease rate skyrocketed 350 percent between 1965 and 1978.’

Jim Lippard said...

That's a reasonable objection to looking at data at the state level rather than more granularly.

If Arizona is any indication the teen birthrate figures may be correlated with race:

"Other states with high birth rates include New Mexico, Texas and Arkansas; Mississippi led the nation. All have teen birth rates 50 percent or more above the national average. Those states have large proportions of Black or Hispanic teenagers, groups that traditionally have high birth rates."

Who had sex ed with films showing heterosexual and homosexual couples having sex? It certainly wasn't in my schools in the 70s.

mikespeir said...

I looked quickly through the study about teenage pregnancy and saw nothing to suggest that married teens were distinguished from married teens. (I did do a search on words like "married" and "marriage," with not results.) Seems to me that that little detail ought to be a big detail.

Jane said...

It's always helpful to look beyond the surface in these statistics. For example, the states with the highest divorce rates also tend to have higher marriage rates. So a state like Arkansas with a marriage rate of 12.2 and a Divorce rate of 5.7 has a high divorce rate compared with Pennsylvania that has a 5.5 percent MARRIAGE rate.

In addition to the other factors mentioned in the teen pregnancy issue, in many of the blue states teen births were prevented by abortion. According to AGI, the twenty top states for abortion are all blue states. (I only looked at 20.)

Jim Lippard said...

Jane: Thanks for that.

Shouldn't the right comparison be # of divorces / # of married couples (rather than marriage rate)?

Not sure that the abortion rate is entirely relevant since the second column is based on pregnancy rates rather than birth rates.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

I think this has all been claimed before on many levels, including at the international level where Sweden is some paradise on all this compared to the US (though it's not, when we correct for some context).

I would agree with Ktisophilos that the state level analysis of anything like this is suspect at best.

Georgia has horrible stats, but are conditions all that much better on ANY of these leading indicators when you go from the redneck countryside like Forstyh county used to be, and traipse into the inner city of Altanta.

Hardly. Ohhhhh--woe be unto those who think this way.

But I assure you the big Hotlanta is squarely BLUE. Your chances of finding some Bible thumpers in Midtown is less than winning the Powerball lotto...

Wakefield Tolbert said...


Granted, this is more of a quip here, but in the major areas where no father was around not long after fertilization, and "father" means sperm donor with no marriage taking place to beging with, and thousands upon thousands of domestic and other relations that have nothing to do with the legal definition of marraige--how can the very word "divorce" figure into such things?

As the above mentioned Sowell would also be more than happy to point out elsewhere, I'm sure, the government is in large part responsible for this handy arrangement of seeing fathers as periperhal to childrens lives.

As to adults who merely live together....well....they aren't getting divorced at high rates either, now are they?

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Of course, the other claim was the famous Gregoy S Paul study, taken apart and rightsized by Gallop.

Follow the bouncing links....