U.S. Fertility


, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 199-214

First online:

Religion and fertility in the United States: New patterns

  • William D. MosherAffiliated withNational Center for Health Statistics
  • , Linda B. WilliamsAffiliated withPopulation Studies Center, University of Michigan
  • , David P. JohnsonAffiliated withNational Center for Health Statistics

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In the United States, the baby boom-era pattern of high Catholic and low Protestant fertility has ended. Among non-Hispanic whites in the 1980s, Catholic total fertility rates (TFRs) were about one-quarter of a child lower than Protestant rates (1.64 vs. 1.91). Most of the Protestant-Catholic difference is related to later and less frequent marriage among Catholics. Future research on the demography of religious groups should focus on explaining the delayed marriage pattern of Catholics, the high fertility of Mormons and frequently attending Protestants, and the very low fertility of those with no religious affiliation.