While this is not a topic that is breaking any ground, it’s always interesting to think about how different life is like if you’re born into a Blue (socially progressive) family versus a Red (socially conservative) family.
It’s the topic of a book by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, Red Families vs. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture. Of course there are plenty of other circumstances that affect your childhood – race, class, education, but set that aside for the time being and digest this (Alternet):
The “blue families” of our title are on one side of the cultural controversy. These families have reaped the handsome rewards available to the well-educated middle class who are able to invest in both their daughters’ and sons’ earning potential. Their children defer family formation until both partners reach emotional maturity and financial independence. Blue family champions celebrate the commitment to equality that makes companionate relationships possible and the sexual freedom that allows women to fully participate in society. Those who have embraced the blue family model have low divorce rates, relatively few teen births, and good incomes. Yet, the ability to realize the advantages of the new blue family system appears to be very much a class-based affair. Women who graduate from college are the only women in American society whose marriage rates have increased, and they and their partners form the group whose divorce rates have most appreciably declined.
The terms of the successful blue family order-embrace the pill, encourage education, and accept sexuality as a matter of private choice-are a direct affront to the “red families” of our title and to social conservatives who see their families in peril. Driven by religious teachings about sin and guilt and based in communities whose social life centers around married couples with children, the red family paradigm continues to celebrate the unity of sex, marriage, and procreation. Red family champions correctly point out that the growing numbers of single-parent families threaten the well-being of the next generation, and they accurately observe that greater male fidelity and female “virtue” strengthen relationships. Yet, red regions of the country have higher teen pregnancy rates, more shotgun marriages, and lower average ages at marriage and first birth. What the red family paradigm has not acknowledged is that the changing economy has undermined the path from abstinence through courtship to marriage. As a result, abstinence into the mid-20s is unrealistic, shotgun marriages correspond with escalating divorce rates, and early marriages, whether prompted by love or necessity, often founder on the economic realities of the modern economy, which disproportionately rewards investment in higher education. Efforts to insist on a return to traditional pieties thus inevitably clash with the structure of the modern economy and produce recurring cries of moral crisis.
…The blue family model has taken hold most completely in urban areas, along the coasts, and in the increasingly Democratic areas of the country-from the Research Triangle in North Carolina to the Microsoft-dominated areas of Seattle-that have profited most from technological innovation. In contrast, red families generally, and the Republican strongholds in which they predominate, are more likely to be religious, rural, less educated, and less mobile, and the political leadership in these regions is more likely to value tradition and continuity. Geographic separation along demographic lines means that the two groups have increasingly less in common, and as the two political parties have become more ideological, these different values orientations have become increasingly partisan-making family form in the twenty-first century one of the most accurate predictors of political loyalties.
The question – what does this mean for the future, politically and economically? We’ve seen the rise of the teabaggers take hold in the deep South, where it’s pretty clear that education and economic challenges are notoriously at lower levels than other regions of the country. The labor may be cheap (as in “right to work” states), but unless a Southern region (the author mentions RTP here in NC) takes it upon itself to develop the educational and technological infrastructure to attract Blue families, a state will fail to prosper. The rural economic model is a thing of the past if growth is the focus. But NC, for instance, straddles both worlds, with both the rural and urban/suburban family models very much butting heads politically, with the balance having shifted away from the rural model over the last few decades.
What is it like in your state — is the balance of rural to suburban/urban trending the same way? Are you seeing any movement shifting toward Blue families moving in?