Politics

Republicans Do Marriage Better

They're happier, stay together longer than Democrats

Republicans want many things — less government, a stronger military, lower taxes, and individual liberty, just to name a few. According to new research, Republicans apparently already have something that they should be proud of: strong marriages.

Research by W. Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas Wolfinger, co-authors of the forthcoming book “Soul Mates: Religion, Sex and Love among African Americans and Latinos,” points to happier, longer-lasting marriages for Republicans than for Democrats.

Their research, which they reported on their blog for the Institute of Family Studies, came about as a response to an op-ed on Bloomberg View by Stony Brook professor of finance Noah Smith, entitled “Liberals Are Rescuing Marriage.” (No word on why a finance guy was opining on marriage.)

Surprisingly, socioeconomic status did not account for any of the differences in quality of married life between the parties.

Smith asked this question in his op-ed: “What if sexual permissiveness and feminism, instead of being toxic to the institution of marriage, are the key to saving it?”

He continued, “Most of the upper-class liberal educated Americans I know who are in stable, happy marriages had their share of premarital sex … Feminism may be even more important for families … (It) rewards fathers for sharing childcare and housework and frees them from the heavy burden of antiquated expectations.”

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And finally, “In other words, maybe liberal morality is simply better adapted for creating stable two-parent families in a post-industrialized world. Maybe conservative values are hard but brittle, like diamond, while liberal family values are strong, like titanium — able to bend without breaking.”

This was apparently enough for Wilcox and Wolfinger to dive into the numbers, to see if all this artfully stated supposition was, in fact, true.

The duo looked at data for 20-to-60-year-olds from 2010-2014 in the General Social Survey, one of the largest yearly surveys of Americans.

What Wilcox and Wolfinger found was this: Republicans are more likely to be married, and stay married.

  • 57 percent of Republicans are married, compared to 40 percent for Democrats
  • 41 percent of Republicans have been divorced, versus 47 percent for Democrats
  • 67 percent of Republicans said they were in “very happy” marriages, versus 60 percent for Democrats

But why? The researchers looked into multiple variables, and discovered that two factors — race and faith — made up for more than half the difference between the two groups being studied.

Republicans are more likely to be white, and whites are more likely to be happily married, the numbers showed.

“This suggests one reason Republicans have happier marriages is that, as a party with a larger share of white couples, they are less likely to face the discrimination, segregation, and poverty that minority couples often experience in America, all of which can compromise the quality of married life.”

But there’s another major reason. Republicans attend religious services more regularly than Democrats do.

“Churchgoing couples enjoy more social, normative, and ritual support for their marriages and family lives,” the duo stated in their findings.

Surprisingly, socioeconomic status did not account for any of the differences in quality of married life between the parties (which means that the “poverty” claim above was not supported by the facts). But other factors for the differences in the numbers are as yet unclear, the researchers acknowledged.

“Perhaps Republicans are more charitable, more optimistic, or more inclined to look at their marriages through rose-colored glasses,” they said of the answers Republicans gave in the survey.

Postings in the comments sections of an article about the research findings in the New York Times were divided.

Someone who posts as Tom Paine wrote: “There is an abundance of data to support the overwhelming value of two-parent families when raising children — so why is there any quibble. And parents appear to have noticed… The truth is out — best to remain married when children are involved.”

And TFreePress grumbled: “This study is just another way to reinforce discrimination against single women, their children, and any other type of family that does not look like Beaver Cleaver’s family. First, this study assumes as fact that ‘intact’ families are only those that include a mother and a father, but some families are made with two mothers, two fathers or just one mother or one father. These families are intact.”

If the research is true, Republicans have yet another reason to thank their lucky stars their worldview aligns with the elephant, and not the donkey.

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