Attitudes toward Marriage and Cohabitation among Working-Age Latinos: Does Religion Matter?

Christopher Ellison, University of Texas at San Antonio
Nicholas H. Wolfinger, University of Utah
Aida Ramos-Wada, University of Texas at Austin

The burgeoning Latino population in the United States has renewed interest in Latino family research. It has often been assumed that Catholicism is a key factor influencing Latinos’ attitudes toward family despite the fact that more than a third of Latinos are not Catholic. This paper uses data from the 2006 National Survey of Religion and Family Life, a survey of the working-age population in the lower 48 states, to explore the effects of religiosity—denomination, church attendance, and beliefs about the Bible—on Latinos’ attitudes towards marriage, divorce, and cohabitation. We find that evangelical Protestants who attend church regularly have almost uniformly more conservative attitudes than do equally observant Catholics. These religious effects are just as potent as social, demographic, and economic factors in explaining family attitudes. Furthermore, belief in biblical literalism does not explain the relationship between denomination/ attendance categories and family attitudes.

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Presented in Session 177: The Role of Cultural Factors in Union Formation and Dissolution