Marriage analysts are not surprised by the latest details from the U.S. Census Bureau about divorce and marriage rates among Americans. The 2009 figures say men and women living in New York are among the least likely to throw in the marital towel and far less likely to divorce than people from the South.

Despite a reputation for social conservatism, Southern states ranked prominently on the list for the most divorces. About 10 in every 1,000 Southern men divorced and 11 of every 1,000 Southern women. Western states also posted higher-than-average divorce numbers.

Among Northeast states, rates for male divorce were 7.2 per 1,000 and 7.5 for women. In New York, the divorce rate was low for both. The New York Department of Health reported just below 23,700 New York City divorces in 2009, the same year as the survey.

Sociologists believe that the combination of earlier marriages and less spousal education have caused the spike in the Southern and Western divorce rates. One Johns Hopkins University professor saw a connection between high-divorce states and the rate of cross-country migration.

The educator speculated that couples who moved away from core family areas may have suffered as a result of isolation. A lack of an immediate support system, he said, may have contributed to divorce.

One law professor from George Washington University added that society’s viewpoints on the subject of premarital sex in the South may be pressuring young couples there to marry sooner than in the Northeast. Early Southern marriages also meant many couples wedded before completing college educations.

Overall, and particularly in the Northeast, couples are waiting longer to get married. The average age a man married in 1970 was 22 and for women it was 20. Two years ago the average ages of first marriages jumped to 28 for males and 26 for females.

Source: The New York Daily News, “Bible Belters Lead NYC in Divorce Rate: Census,” Celeste Katz, Aug. 25, 2011