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Catholic Schooling, Protestant Schooling, and Religious Commitment in Young Adulthood

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If and how Catholic and Protestant schools influence the religious lives of their students once they have graduated is unclear. Methodological limitations and inconsistencies in previous studies have resulted in confusing and often contradictory findings. Using data from two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health ( N = 11,212), I compare the religious lives of young adults who attended Catholic, Protestant, and secular schools as adolescents. The results suggest that Protestant schoolers are far more religious as young adults than those who attended a secular school, a difference that is at least partially explained by the schools' religious environment. But young adults who attended Catholic schools report levels of religiosity that are similar to those educated in a secular school, and are actually lower for some outcomes. Studies of religious schoolers that ignore the religious tradition of the school overlook these differing effects and forfeit statistical explanatory power.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology University of Texas at Austin

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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