Decomposing the Moral Community: Religious Contexts and Teen Childbearing

Authors

  • Seth Ovadia,

    1. Bowdoin College
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  • Laura M. Moore

    Corresponding author
    1. Hood College
      *Correspondence should be addressed to Laura M. Moore, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Hood College, 401 Rosemont Ave., Frederick, MD 21701; moore@hood.edu.
      An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the 2007 Southern Sociological Society, Atlanta, GA. We would like to thank Joe Bandy, Karin Brewster, Joy Ernst, Mark Regnerus, and the editor and reviewers for City & Community for their feedback on earlier drafts of this article.
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*Correspondence should be addressed to Laura M. Moore, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Hood College, 401 Rosemont Ave., Frederick, MD 21701; moore@hood.edu.
An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the 2007 Southern Sociological Society, Atlanta, GA. We would like to thank Joe Bandy, Karin Brewster, Joy Ernst, Mark Regnerus, and the editor and reviewers for City & Community for their feedback on earlier drafts of this article.

Abstract

Teen birth rates vary widely across counties in the United States. In this study, we examine whether the religious composition of a county is correlated with the rate of teen childbearing using both a traditional moral communities approach and a “decomposed” version of that framework. Utilizing 2000 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Census Bureau, and the Religious Congregation and Membership Survey, we find that the total percentage of religious adherents in a county is not significantly correlated with the teen birth rate. However, when we decompose the Christian population into major denominational groupings, we find the percentage of evangelical Protestants in a county is positively associated with the teen birth rate while the percentage of Catholics is negatively associated with teen childbearing. Possible explanations for the association between religious context and teen birth rates are discussed, as well as their policy and research implications.

Abstract

Descomponiendo la comunidad moral: contextos religiosos y el embarazo adolescente (Seth Ovadia y Laura M. Moore)

Resumen

Las tasas de embarazo adolescente varían ampliamente entre los diferentes condados de los Estados Unidos. En el presente estudio, examinamos si la composición religiosa de un condado está relacionada con la tasa de embarazo adolescente haciendo uso de la perspectiva tradicional de las comunidades morales al igual que una versión “descompuesta” de dicho marco analítico. Utilizando datos para el 2000 de los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades, de la Oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos y de la Encuesta sobre Membresía Religiosa, encontramos que no hay una correlación significativa entre el porcentaje total de personas pertenecientes a una religión en un condado y la tasa de embarazo adolescente. Sin embargo, cuando descomponemos la población cristiana en sus denominaciones principales, encontramos que el porcentaje de protestantes evangélicos en un condado está positivamente asociado con la tasa de embarazo adolescente mientras que el porcentaje de católicos está asociado negativamente con dicha tasa. El artículo discute varias explicaciones posibles para la asociación entre el contexto religioso y la tasa de embarazo adolescente al igual que las implicaciones en términos de políticas y de investigación futura.

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