RELIGIOUS INVOLVEMENT AND EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES: The Role of Social Capital and Extracurricular Participation


*Jennifer Glanville, Department of Sociology, W140 Seashore Hall, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242; e-mail:


Previous research has observed that religious participation is positively related to a wide variety of adolescent outcomes, including academic achievement, but relatively little is known about why this is the case. We focus on a group of related potential explanations for why religious involvement improves educational outcomes. We examine whether religious participation enhances academic outcomes among teens by the way in which it shapes their social ties, or social capital, focusing on both intergenerational relationships and on relationships with peers. We also examine the potential intervening role of extracurricular participation. Using structural equation models to analyze data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we examine the potential role of social capital and extracurricular participation in mediating the relationship between religious participation and academic achievement, dropping out of high school, and attachment to school. We find that religious attendance promotes higher intergenerational closure, friendship networks with higher educational resources and norms, and extracurricular participation. These intervening variables account for a small part of the influence of adolescent religious participation on the educational outcomes in this study.