AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- People living in areas with many conservative Protestants are at higher risk of divorce, even if they aren't conservative Protestants, U.S. researchers say.
Jennifer Glass of the University of Texas at Austin, who conducted some of the research while at the University of Iowa, said divorce is higher among religiously conservative Protestants and that divorce is more common in religiously conservative "red" states.
The researchers analyzed county divorce statistics against information from an earlier study of religious congregations. They categorized Protestant denominations that believe the Bible is literally true as "conservative Protestants."
The study, scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Sociology, found higher divorce rates among conservative Protestants were tied to earlier marriage and childbearing -- factors shown in previous research to contribute to divorce, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In addition, the researchers also said starting families earlier tends to stop young adults from pursuing more education and depresses their wages, putting more strain on marriages.
However, Glass and colleagues also found county-by-county, for every 1 percent increase in the share of conservative Protestants compared with mainline Protestants, the divorce rate increased 0.02 percent.
"If you live in a marriage market where everybody marries young, you postpone marriage at your own risk. The best catches ... are going to go first," Glass said.