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J. Shane Mercer, Published December 17 2008

Study: ND first in number of kids living with 2 parents

North Dakota ranks first in the nation for percentage of children who live either with both biological parents or two adoptive parents as one family unit, according to a study released Tuesday by the Family Research Council and the North Dakota Family Alliance.

Compared to the national average of 57.8 percent,

69 percent of North Dakotans age 6 to 17 live in intact families that include either both biological parents or two adoptive parents. Minnesota ranks sixth with 65.8 percent of children fitting those criteria. Mississippi ranked 50th with a percentage of 46.9.

The study, which analyzed 2003 data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics, looked at the impact of family intactness and regular attendance at religious services on school-aged children.

The study found that “children and adolescents are less likely to exhibit problems in school or at home if they live with both their biological parents (or two adoptive parents) and attend religious services regularly.”

Both the Family Research Council and the North Dakota Family Alliance are associated with the Christian ministry Focus on the Family, which was founded by James Dobson.

“Being No. 1 one out of all 50 (states) is definitely something we in our state should be proud of,” said Tom Freier, executive director of the North Dakota Family Alliance.

Freier believes the high ranking on family intactness is due in part to the heritage of the area, which focuses on family and faith.

North Dakota also ranked high in terms of children who attend religious worship services regularly. North Dakota came in ninth with 84.9 percent of 6 to 17 year olds attending religious weekly to monthly compared to the national average of 75.4 percent. Minnesota ranked 19th with 77.2 percent of children regularly attending religious services. Vermont came in 50th with 45 percent regularly attending.

According to the study, their analysis of the data shows “that children and adolescents are less likely to exhibit problems in school or at home if they live with both “their biological parents (or two adoptive parents) and attend religious services regularly.”

The study found that 6 percent of those from intact families and who regularly attend religious services had repeated a grade compared to 34 percent of those not living with both parents and not attending services regularly.


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734