Causality relations between religiosity and childbearing: evidence from a Dutch panel study

Caroline Berghammer, Vienna Institute of Demography

Previous studies have demonstrated that religious people in Europe have larger families. To date, however, there is a lack of evidence on the causality of this link. This analysis addresses the question if a reverse causation persists, i.e., if the frequency of church attendance influences a person’s childbearing behaviour and, at the same time, if having a child affects one’s level of church attendance. The analysis, applying Structural Equation Modeling, is based on four-wave panel data gathered in the Netherlands (1987-2006) spanning most of the reproductive life of the male and female respondents. Contrary to findings from the U.S. the results suggest a one-way causality: the level of church attendance influences future childbearing, but a change in the number of children does not prove to be a significant determinant for the frequency of church attendance.

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Presented in Session 222: Religion, culture and reproduction