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Religious Participation in Early Adulthood: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership

Ross M. Stolzenberg, Mary Blair-Loy and Linda J. Waite
American Sociological Review
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1995), pp. 84-103
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096347
Page Count: 20
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Religious Participation in Early Adulthood: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership
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Abstract

We attempt to integrate, elaborate, and test competing theories of why religious participation increases with age during young adulthood. We reconceptualize age and family formation as interacting causes of religious participation rather than competing explanations of it. We expand the concept of family formation to include divorce, cohabitation, and dissolution of cohabitational relationships. We distinguish attitudes toward the family from family formation behavior. We analyze data from the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972, which traces church membership to age 32. Our results show that the effect of children on church membership varies with the combination of the children's and parent's ages. We find separate effects of family formation behavior and attitudes toward the family. Cohabitation, divorce, and dissolution of cohabitational unions all affect membership probability, but these effects vary with age and are often different for men and women.

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