Religious Homogamy and Marital Quality: Historical and Generational Patterns, 1980 – 1997


Department of Sociology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717-2380 (


Despite significant social changes in the past 50 years, research continues to find a strong and enduring link between religious homogamy and marital quality. Yet, research has not explicitly examined whether this link has changed over time or over generations. To address historical and generational trends, I use national, longitudinal data collected between 1980 and 1997 that represents 3,211 respondents in the parental and offspring generations and 2 measures each of marital quality and religious homogamy. The findings show that the relationship between religious homogamy and marital quality weakened significantly between 1980 and 1997 from intragenerational change and generational replacement. The homogamy–marital quality link was weaker in both generations partly because of the increasing relative influence of gender, work, and family issues. Additionally, a decline in perceptions of religious authority has altered the religion–marital quality connection, though mostly among the younger generation. Even so, religiously homogamous couples still report higher marital quality.