Religion and Marriage Timing: A Replication and Extension
Rendon, Joshua J.
Denton, Melinda Lundquist
Bartkowski, John P.
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Previous studies have revealed denominational subculture variations in marriage timing in the U.S. with conservative Protestants marrying at a much younger age than Catholics and the unaffiliated. However, the effects of other religious factors, such as worship service attendance and religious salience, remain overlooked. Informed by a theoretical framework that integrates the denominational subculture variation thesis and the gendered religiosity thesis, this study replicates, updates, and extends previous research by examining the effects of religiosity on the timing of first marriage among 10,403 men and 12,279 women using pooled cross-sectional data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 2006–2010. Our survival regression models indicate that: (1) consistent with previous research, Protestants in general, and conservative Protestants in particular, marry earlier than the religiously unaffiliated; (2) irrespective of denominational affiliation, increased frequency of worship service attendance decreases age at first marriage for both men and women, whereas religious salience is associated with earlier marriage only for women; (3) among Catholics, as worship service attendance increases, the waiting time to first marriage decreases; and (4) among Protestants, however, worship service attendance decreases age at first marriage for men who are affiliated with mainline and non-denominational Protestant churches, while for women the decrease in age at first marriage associated with worship service attendance is found for those who report a conservative Protestant affiliation. The complex intersections of denominational affiliation, frequency of worship service attendance, religious salience, and gender are discussed. Results suggest that religion continues to exert influences on marriage timing among recent birth cohorts of young Americans.