Religiosity and demographic events: a comparative study of European countries

Caroline Berghammer, Vienna Institute of Demography
Dimiter Philipov, Vienna Institute of Demography
Tomas Sobotka, Vienna Institute of Demography

Religion has been shown to have a considerable impact on demographic processes. In this paper we address the associations between religiosity and family and fertility behaviour in 15 European countries using FFS data. We restrain to Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism due to the small numbers of observations in other categories, e.g. Islam. The influence of religiosity on demographic behaviour comes through several links. First, since religions promote a pronatalistic and family-oriented behaviour, we expect them to exert a relevant influence on their adherents in this direction. Secondly, the main function of religiosity is to enable religious people—beyond the borders of religious organisations—to deal with contingent situations, like child bearing or divorce, by referring to the transcendent. Consequentially, the level of uncertainty decreases. Third, the embedding in religiosity-related social networks might lead to emotional stability and availability of practical aid and hence result in an enhanced sense of certainty and in turn to accordant action. We used the following indicators to measure religiosity: religious affiliation, self-assessed religiosity, and frequency of attending religious services. We applied logistic and ordinary regressions. We find that in general higher religiosity (self-assessed and church attendance) leads to a higher age at first intercourse, and that Catholics are more likely to have their first intercourse later than Protestants and Orthodox. Non-religious individuals show a higher probability of leaving home earlier than the more religious; Protestants and Orthodox later than Catholics. The odds of non-religious and somewhat religious persons to cohabit are higher than that of religious. Protestants are more prone to cohabit than Catholics. For females lower religiosity associates with a lower number of children, while this relation is more diverse for men. No evidence was found for an interrelation between religiosity and age at birth of first child.

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Presented in Session 66: Religion and demographic beaviour