What’s Going on in Mississippi? Part 2

Last week I wrote about a paradox occurring in the state of Mississippi. In case you missed it, or didn’t read “What’s Going on in Mississippi? Part 1,” I will fill you in:

Mississippi ranks number one among US states in two seemingly paradoxical categories. Mississippi is the most religious state in the US, with 59% calling themselves “very religious.” However, they also rank number one in the US in teen birthrate.

Conversely, New Hampshire, who ranks at the bottom of “religiousness” also registers the lowest teen birthrate in the country.

Naturally, I asked the question- What’s going on inMississippi?

One reader responded with the hypothesis that, perhaps, abortion rates are higher in New Hampshire than in Mississippi. This would lead to a direct correlation between “religiousness” and abortion rates.

The US Census Bureau keeps records of abortion rates, so this hypothesis can be tested. Here are the abortion rates for the five most religious and five least religious states.

5 Most Religious States  Abortions in 2000- 2005- 2008     20o8 Abortion Rate*

Mississippi                                           3,780- 3,090- 2,700                            4.6%

Utah                                                3,510- 3,630-4,000                            6.7%                           

Alabama                                           13,830-11,340- 11,270                       12%

Louisiana                                        13,100-11,400- 14,860                       16.1%

Arkansas                                         5,540- 4,710- 4,890                            8.7 %

5 Least Religious States     Abortions in 2000-2005-2008   2008 Abortion Rate*

Vermont                                               1,660- 1,490- 1,510                            12.5%

New Hampshire                                   3,010- 3,170- 3,200                            12.3%

Maine                                                   2,650- 2,770- 2,800                            11.2%

Massachusetts                                      30,410- 27,270- 24,900                      18.3%

Alaska                                                  1,660- 1,880- 1,700                            12%

* The national 2008 abortion rate was 19.6%

When we look at these statistics, we have to look at two things- the over number and also the rate. Comparing the number they come out almost identical. In 2008 there were a total of 37,720 abortions in the five most religious states and 34,110 abortions in the five least religious states. When we compare the rate, the least religious states have a higher average rate but we have to remember that rate in based on population (in this case, per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years of age) and all of them rate below the national rate of 19.6%.

Is there a correlation between being religious and abortion? The numbers would point toward no.

And we are back to the question- What’s going on inMississippi?

I’ve discovered some other interesting data, so it looks like there will be a part 3 to this discussion.

In the meantime, any other hypotheses?

© Ryan Vanderland 2012

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