Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 163-175

First online:

Religiosity and the Transition to Nonmarital Parity

  • Heidi Ann LyonsAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, Oakland University Email author 
  • , Scott James SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, Oakland University

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Nonmarital parity is associated with several negative outcomes, including health problems, educational problems, and poverty. Understanding the risk and protective factors associated with nonmarital parenthood can inform policy and interventions, reducing both the incidences and associated consequences. The current study focuses on how intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity (the degree to which individuals or groups employ religious ideology in forming values and making decisions) are related to the timing of nonmarital parity using discrete time hazard modeling of a nationally representative sample of adolescent females (N = 7,367) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The majority of the sample (86 %) claimed a religious affiliation and almost a third (32 %) had a nonmarital birth during the study. Even though the majority of the sample is White (67 %), Black and Hispanic females were more likely to experience a nonmarital birth. Results indicate that intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity and religious affiliation assert protective effects for some populations while religious affiliation increases risk in the full model. Recommendations for policy, intervention, and future research are offered.


Nonmarital fertility Religiosity Reproductive and sexual health Add Health Health inequalities