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Purpose – This chapter proposes a new model to explain how increased religiosity among children leads to higher eventual educational attainment; it does so by focusing…
Purpose – This chapter proposes a new model to explain how increased religiosity among children leads to higher eventual educational attainment; it does so by focusing upon the unique role that parental religiosity plays in this process – this intergenerational dimension has been neglected in previous research on the topic.
Design/Methodology/Approach – Using NLSY97 data, employing regression techniques, and incorporating information on parental religious behaviors, this chapter tests whether parental religiosity only matters because it transmits religiosity to children, and once children become religious themselves, parental religiosity becomes a redundant resource – or it has a powerful independent effect net of this socialization process.
Finding – Results generally support the parental religiosity theory, where parental religious service attendance uniquely produces positive educational effects, even net of religious socialization ones. Religious affiliation differences are generally minor. Additional models also provide evidence that parental religiosity and adolescent education are not related via some omitted variable.
Research limitations/Implications – Under this new perspective, children's educational attainment can rise, even if children are not religious themselves, because parental religiosity can promote parental behaviors conducive to children's schooling.
Originality/Value – Overall, parental religiosity deserves renewed attention as a cultural basis for inequality in the United States today.
The association between religion and material well-being is fundamental to research on inequality and stratification. Broadly considered, this association includes questions about how religious affiliation and religiosity are associated with work behaviors, education, income, wealth, and related family processes. Early social sciences debated if and how these traits and outcomes are related and offered important insight into the mechanisms that might explain empirical patterns (Simmel, 1997; Sombart, 1911; Weber, 1905/1930). However, the religious landscape and the mechanisms creating religion and well-being have both changed dramatically since the early days of the social sciences. The proliferation of Protestant denominations, the changing role of Catholics, and the increased presence of other religious traditions are beyond the scope of these early works. Moreover, the relationship between religion and stratification is no longer a function of large-scale shifts in the mode of production but rather reflects changing individual and group approaches to human capital, work, and saving. In the 1960s, sociologists revived these debates, but empirical challenges and a narrowing of the discussion to focus on Protestant–Catholic differences weakened and ultimately ended the literature's momentum (Broom & Glenn, 1966; Glenn & Hyland, 1967; Laumann, 1969; Lazerwitz & Rowitz, 1964; Lenski, 1961).