According to census data, the divorce rate in rural Americans has increased seven-fold since 1970.

Now, for the first time, rural Americans are just as likely as city dwellers to have a marriage end in a divorce.

Experts attribute this explosion in divorce in America's heartland to changing values; divorce is no longer as stigmatized as it once was.

Another factor is that women in rural areas are more likely to be college graduates than men in those regions, giving rural women more opportunities outside the home than they've had in the past, and making them less reliant on their husbands for their livelihood.

"In the bottom ranks, men have lost ground and women have gained," said June Carbone, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"A blue-collar guy has less to offer today than he did in 1979," she said, which has created "a mismatch between expectation and reality."

Do you agree with this assessment? What do you think are the main causes for the spike in divorce in rural areas?

[NY Times]