Do Congregations Influence Fertility?
Conrad Hackett, Princeton University
Numerous demographic studies demonstrate that individual religious commitment influences fertility and many other studies compare the fertility rates of large religious groups. However, the influence of congregations upon fertility has been largely overlooked by demographers even though congregations are principal mediators of religious instruction, socialization, and practice. Utilizing data from hundreds of American congregations, this paper describes patterns of congregational fertility by denomination and analyzes the determinants of congregational fertility patterns. Multilevel analysis is conducted to specify the characteristics of variation in congregational fertility and to control for regional fertility differences. Preliminary findings reveal that congregations with conservative theology tend to have high fertility and congregations with high education levels tend to have low fertility. High fertility levels are observed in congregations affiliated with several small denominations that are usually overlooked in demographic surveys.