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Nicole Brose (2006)

Against the Current of the Times? – The Influence of Religious Affiliation and Religiosity on the Birth of Children and on Perceptions of the Benefit of Children*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 31, 2/2006, p. 257-282, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

The view is repeatedly expressed in sociological family research that social norms and values determine decisions regarding family formation and expansion. It is however by no means always evident to what degree norms and values are more the cause or the effect of reproductive behaviour. Considering the latter possibility to be correct, one would expect to find a greater willingness to found and expand a family among those who stand opposed to the spread of a less family-orientated lifestyle. Such a potential for opposition might be most common in a Christian environment. This study hence attempts to explore the issue of whether persons of a Christian affiliation have so far become decoupled from the trend towards smaller numbers of children. The conclusions of this survey indicate that Protestants and Catholics have an average of 0.25 more children than persons with no religious affiliation, even after controlling for socio-economic characteristics. This relationship is even more pronounced if indicators of religiosity are also accounted for in addition to religious affiliation. Beyond this aspect, the survey is to provide a starting point for indicating mechanisms giving rise to the correlation between religious affiliation and the number of children. Two particular hypotheses are to be subject to empirical study in this context: The positive effect of religion on the number of children is (a) the result of higher expectations as to the emotional benefit of children (value anticipation hypothesis), and (b) both an expression and a consequence of greater willingness to marry and/or of a less pronounced tendency towards separation or divorce (marriage affinity hypothesis).

* Original title: Gegen den Strom der Zeit? Vom Einfluss der religiösen Zugehörigkeit und Religiosität auf die Geburt von Kindern und die Wahrnehmung des Kindernutzens (full text in German only)

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