Subjective and objective measures of religiosity and fertility choices in developed countries

Alicia Adsera, Princeton University

I use the ISSP98 survey Religion II to study the relationship between objective and subjective measures of religiosity and fertility behavior. I extend some of my previous analysis for the case of Spain to a larger set of 23 countries (among them 13 European, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) and to include, in addition to Catholics, mainline and conservative Protestants a majority in some of the countries in the sample. I use different measures of practice that include current church attendance, prayer habits and maternal/paternal/own mass attendance at the age of 12 as well as self-reported level of religiosity in the ISSP. In addition I control for the religious affiliation and participation of the spouse. Main findings include (1) Larger families in affiliations with more pronatalist teachings, than for Mainline Protestants or no religious affiliation. (2) Prayer not as relevant as participation. (3) Self reported religiosity strongly associated with fertility behavior. (4) Catholic affiliation per-se is relevant even without practice particularly for men but this is not the case for other affiliations. (5) A large gap between the father’s and mother’s religious attendance as well as differences in affiliation within the couple are associated with lower fertility. ( Finally I study whether the relation between religiosity and fertility holds stronger in countries with more or less religious diversity. Church affiliation, independent of religiosity, does not exert much influence in demographic behavior in countries monopolized by one religious affiliation such as State churches in Nordic countries or Catholicism in Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Poland or Austria. In more pluralistic societies such as the Netherlands or, to some extent, the US (for women), Canada, Slovakia and (to some extent) New Zealand both affiliation and religiosity matter incrementally.

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Presented in Session 11: Religion and Fertility