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National Context, Parental Socialization, and Religious Belief: Results from 15 Nations

Jonathan Kelley and Nan Dirk De Graaf
American Sociological Review
Vol. 62, No. 4 (Aug., 1997), pp. 639-659
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657431
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
National Context, Parental Socialization, and Religious Belief: Results from 15 Nations
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Abstract

How much does a nation's religious environment affect the religious beliefs of its citizens? Do religious nations differ from secular nations in how beliefs are passed on from generation to generation? To find out, we use data from the 1991 International Social Survey Programme collected in 15 nations from 19,815 respondents. We use diagonal reference models estimated by nonlinear regression to control for a nation's level of economic development and exposure to Communism, and for the individual's denomination, age, gender, and education. We find that (1) people living in religious nations will, in proportion to the religiosity of their fellow-citizens, acquire more orthodox beliefs than otherwise similar people living in secular nations; (2) in relatively secular nations, family religiosity strongly shapes children's religious beliefs, while the influence of national religious context is small; (3) in relatively religious nations family religiosity, although important, has less effect on children's beliefs than does national context. These three patterns hold in rich nations and in poor nations, in formerly Communist nations and in established democracies, and among old and young, men and women, the well-educated and the poorly educated, and for Catholics and Protestants. Findings on the link between belief and church attendance are inconsistent with the influential "supply-side" analysis of differences between nations.

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