The Corner

Families in Red and Blue

Ross Douthat and Jonathan Rauch have each written terrific columns about the different models of family life prevalent in the conservative and liberal parts of the country. Compared to blue states, red states have earlier marriages, higher divorce rates, more illegitimacy, and less abortion. Rauch argues that the blue-state model is better adapted to the modern economy, Douthat that the red-state model is “an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.” I haven’t read the book that informs both columns, but I wonder two things. First, how much (if any) of the red-blue divide is explained by race? High illegitimacy rates among blacks in Mississippi might make the partisan or ideological divide look more stark than it is. Second, in evaluating the “success” or “adaptiveness” of the blue-state model we might–especially if we’re of a Steynian bent–want to see whether one model results in more children than the other. Is it possible that the blue states are depending on the red states’ fecundity to fund their retirements?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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