Religion as a Moderator in the Fertility/Happiness Relationship

Stephen Cranney, University of Pennsylvania

The literature on children and happiness has progressed beyond simple associations and has begun to explore the roles of various attitudes and environmental factors that moderate the relationship. Here I examine the role of religiosity as a moderator in the happiness/fertility relationship. I draw on both the psychology and demography literature to make a theoretical case that, as religiosity in the United States tends to be associated with pronatalist norms and culture, and as people derive more happiness from fulfilling sociocultural imperatives, then, all things being equal, the more religious will have a higher happiness effect (or lower unhappiness effect) from their children than the less religious. Using General Social Survey data, my empirical analyses empirically confirm this hypothesis, showing a significant interaction term between religion and child number. This interaction is in turn affected by another interaction term between higher ideal family size (measuring pronatalist tendencies) and children.

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Presented in Session 217: Happiness, Parenting, and Childbearing