L’Observatoire des religions

Is fertility related to religiosity ?-Evidence from Spain

mardi 18 décembre 2007 par Shoshana Neuman

This paper was delivered at the first ENER workshop, in Granada (Spain), novembre 2007
Preferences, including preferences for children, are shaped during the formative years of childhood. It is therefore essential to include exposure to religious practice during childhood in an attempt to establish a link between religiosity and fertility. This path has not been explored in the documented literature that looks at the relationship between current religiosity (measured by one dichotomous church attendance variable) and fertility.
The International Social Survey Programme : Religion 2 (ISSP) provides the data base. It includes information on maternal/paternal/own mass participation when the respondent was a child (nine levels each), as well as on his current churchgoing (six levels) and prayer habits (eleven levels).These variables are included as explanatory variables in ’fertility equations’ that explain the number of children of Catholic women in Spain.
The core findings are that exposure to religiosity during the formative years of childhood, has a pronounced effect on women’s ’taste for children’ that later on translates into the number of her offspring. The two parents have major effects on women. However, interestingly, while an intensively practicing father encourages the daughter to have more children (by about 0.8, on average), an intensively practicing mother has a negative effect on the daughter’s birth rate, leading to lower fertility by one child. Current religiosity seems to be irrelevant. It follows that religiosity and fertility are interrelated but the mechanism is probably different from the simplistic causality that is suggested in the literature.
Keywords : fertility ; religion ; Catholic ; Church attendance ; prayer ; parental religiosity ; taste for children ; Spain.

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