Red Families V. Blue Families

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The George Washington University Law School/Social Science Research Network

Increasing political polarization in the United States is the result of the development of two different family systems – each with its own legal structure, moral imperatives and expectations of the state, according to this paper. In “blue” (Democratic-majority) states, the hallmarks of “a new middle class morality” include investments in work force participation by both women and men, marriage and childbearing at later ages and with greater autonomy, more equalized gender roles, and reduced fertility by those who postpone family formation. By contrast, the “moral values” of “red” (Republican-majority) states are exhibited as the celebration of the unity of sex, marriage and procreation, an emphasis on abstinence (driven in part by religious teachings), and views of divorce and single parenthood as moral failings.

Both family models have problems, say the authors. While blue states have unprecedented numbers who will never marry, falling fertility rates and concerns about the lack of commitment within intimate relationships, red-state families have the highest divorce rates in the country, higher rates of teen pregnancies and births, and fewer resources to cushion the consequences of family fragility. Free. 70 pages. (202) 994-6025,