Associations of Childhood Religious Attendance, Family Structure, and Nonmarital Fertility Across Cohorts


University of Michigan, School of Public Health, 3648 SPH Tower, 109 Observatory, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (


This article considers associations among childhood family structure, childhood religious service attendance, and the probability of having a nonmarital first birth before age 30 for non-Hispanic White women born 1944 to 1964 using data from the 1988 and 1995 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (N = 5,995). We found that attending religious services weekly during childhood and growing up in a 2-biological-parent family were associated with lower odds of having had a nonmarital first birth. These associations were quite stable across cohorts, although religious attendance was less associated with nonmarital fertility for the youngest cohort. We estimate that changes in these childhood experiences account for 22% of the increase in nonmarital first births across these cohorts.