Original Paper

Review of Religious Research

, 53:41

First online:

Social Relationships in the Church During Late Life: Assessing Differences Between African Americans, Whites, and Mexican Americans

  • Neal KrauseAffiliated withDepartment of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Elena BastidaAffiliated withFlorida International University

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The purpose of this study is to see if there are differences in the social relationships that older African Americans, older whites, and older Mexican Americans form with the people where they worship. Data from two large surveys are pooled to see if race differences emerge in eleven different measures of church-based social relationships. These measures assess social relationships with rank-and-file church members as well as social relationships with members of the clergy. The findings reveal that older African Americans tend to have more well-developed social relationships in the church than either older whites or older Mexican Americans. This is true with respect to relationships with fellow church members as well as relationships with the clergy. In contrast, relatively few differences emerged between older Americans of European descent and older Mexican Americans. However, when differences emerged in the data, older whites tend to score higher on the support measures than older Mexican Americans.


Social support Social relationships Religion Ethnicity