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Religion as a Determinant of Economic and Demographic Behavior in the United States

  • Evelyn L. Lehrer

This note reviews and synthesizes research on the effects of religion on various economic and demographic behaviors of individuals and families in the United States, including the choice of marital partner, union formation and dissolution, fertility, female time allocation, education, wages, and wealth. Using a theoretical framework based on Gary Becker's contributions to the economics of the family, it demonstrates that religious affiliation affects economic and demographic behavior because of its impact on the costs and benefits of many interrelated decisions that people make over the life cycle. In addition, for behaviors that pertain to married-couple households, religious affiliation matters because it is a complementary trait within the context of marriage. Religiosity, another dimension of religion, also affects economic and demographic outcomes, partly because it accentuates differences by religious affiliation, partly because religious involvement has generally beneficial effects on health and well-being. Copyright 2004 The Population Council, Inc..

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Article provided by The Population Council, Inc. in its journal Population and Development Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 707-726

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Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:30:y:2004:i:4:p:707-726
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  1. William Sander, 1993. "Catholicism and marriage in the united states," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 373-384, August.
  2. Chiswick, Barry R, 1986. "Labor Supply and Investment in Child Quality: A Study of Jewish and Non-Jewish Women," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 700-703, November.
  3. Lehrer, Evelyn L, 1996. "Religion as a Determinant of Marital Fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 173-96, May.
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  5. William Mosher & Gerry Hendershot, 1984. "Religion and fertility: A replication," Demography, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 185-191, May.
  6. Kevin McQuillan, 2004. "When Does Religion Influence Fertility?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(1), pages 25-56.
  7. Brenner, Reuven & Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1981. "The Economics of the Diaspora: Discrimination and Occupational Structure," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 517-34, April.
  8. Ayal, Eliezer B & Chiswick, Barry R, 1983. "The Economics of the Diaspora Revisited," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(4), pages 861-75, July.
  9. Linda J. Waite & Evelyn L. Lehrer, 2003. "The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(2), pages 255-275.
  10. Richard B. Freeman, 1985. "Who Escapes? The Relation of Church-Going & Other Background Factors to the Socio-Economic Performance of Blk. Male Yths. from Inner-City Pvrty Tracts," NBER Working Papers 1656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. William Mosher & David Johnson & Marjorie Horn, 1986. "Religion and fertility in the United States: The importance of marriage patterns and hispanic origin," Demography, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 367-379, August.
  12. Richard B. Freeman, 1986. "Who Escapes? The Relation of Churchgoing and Other Background Factors to the Socioeconomic Performance of Black Male Youths from Inner-City Tracts," NBER Chapters, in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 353-376 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
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