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Religion and fertility ideals, intentions and behaviour: a comparative study of European countries

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  • Caroline Berghammer
  • Dimiter Philipov

Abstract

European demographers rarely study religion as a determinant of contemporary demographic behaviour. One reason could be the secularisation observed in European countries, implying that the effect of religiosity has been diminishing. This paper aims to show that religion can have an important impact on ideals, intentions and behaviour related to fertility. First we discuss recent trends in religiosity. We base our ensuing hypotheses on three deliberations why religion may have a bearing on fertility: importance of religious teaching, effect of social capital and function of religion to decrease uncertainty. Using FFS data we examine the influence of several measures of religiosity on the ideal number of children and intentions to have a second and third child, as well as on the expected and actual number of children. We find that all measures of religiosity are in general related to a higher ideal number of children, higher odds to intend another child and higher expected and actual number of children. Participation in religious services turns out to be slightly more salient than affiliation and self-assessed religiosity. We also discover that the effect of religion on ideals is more pronounced than its effect on intentions. Ideals stay further away from behaviour than intentions do and hence the influence of religion is intermediated by other social systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Berghammer & Dimiter Philipov, 2007. "Religion and fertility ideals, intentions and behaviour: a comparative study of European countries," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 5(1), pages 271-305.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:5:y:2007:i:1:p:271-305
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    1. Kevin McQuillan, 2004. "When Does Religion Influence Fertility?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(1), pages 25-56.
    2. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    3. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
    4. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Neuman, Shoshana, 2006. "Is Fertility Related to Religiosity? Evidence from Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 2192, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Alicia Adsera, 2005. "Vanishing Children: From High Unemployment to Low Fertility in Developed Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 189-193, May.
    6. S. Morgan, 1981. "Intention and uncertainty at later stages of childbearing: the united states 1965 and 1970," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(3), pages 267-285, August.
    7. Ross Stolzenberg & Mary Blair-Loy & Linda J. Waite, "undated". "Religious Participation Over the Early Life Course: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 94-14, Chicago - Population Research Center.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9798-x is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:dem:demres:v:36:y:2017:i:60 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Samuel H. Preston & Caroline Sten Hartnett, 2008. "The Future of American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 14498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Anne-Kristin Kuhnt & Heike Trappe, 2013. "Easier said than done: childbearing intentions and their realization in a short term perspective," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2013-018, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. Hill Kulu & Tina Hannemann, 2016. "Why does fertility remain high among certain UK-born ethnic minority women?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(49), pages 1441-1488, December.
    6. Daniele Vignoli & Silvana Salvini, 2014. "Religion and union formation in Italy: Catholic precepts, social pressure, and tradition," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(35), pages 1079-1106, November.
    7. Nitzan Peri-Rotem, 2016. "Religion and Fertility in Western Europe: Trends Across Cohorts in Britain, France and the Netherlands," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 231-265, May.

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