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Parents' Religious Heterogamy and Children's Well-Being

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This study considers the impact of having parents of dissimilar faiths on children's well-being. Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households, we examine the hypothesis that parents' religious heterogamy has both direct and indirect negative effects on children's well-being. First, we find evidence that religious heterogamy is positively associated with marital conflict and negatively associated with religious participation. Second, our results suggest that children with religiously heterogamous parents are more likely to engage in marijuana use and underage drinking than children with religiously homogamous parents. However, these associations occur only in families where parents' religious heterogamy is a product of greater religious distance (e.g., one parent is not religious or both parents identify with different religions). Religiously heterogamous parents who affiliate with different Protestant groups report similar levels of marital conflict and religious participation as same-faith parents. In addition, the children of these parents report similar levels of delinquency as children of same-faith parents. We find no evidence that religious heterogamy is associated with children's self-esteem, life satisfaction, or grades in school.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Richard J. Petts is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210., Email: [email protected] 2: Chris Knoester is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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