The prominent East-to-West gradient in state divorce rates has frequently been partially attributed to an ecological factor called “frontier atmosphere,” which incorporates the effects of mobility on social integration. This paper employs linear statistical procedures to show that, after adjustment of state divorce rates for age distribution, the percent ever married among teenage females is the best statistical predictor of 1960 and 1970 divorce rates, whereas “frontierness,” conventionally measured by population mobility, is shown to have negligible effect, controlling for other selected legal and nonlegal factors. This finding suggests that previous ecological studies of divorce have overemphasized the effect of mobility and social stability on geographic divorce rate differentials, perhaps due to the neglect of demographic variables such as age distribution and especially age at marriage.

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