Religious Socialisation and Fertility: Transition to Third Birth in The Netherlands

  • Caroline BerghammerEmail author


Although previous studies have demonstrated that religious people in Europe have larger families, the role played by religious socialisation in the context of contemporary fertility behaviour has not yet been analysed in detail. This contribution specifically looks at the interrelation between religious socialisation and current religiosity and their impact on the transition to the third child for Dutch women. It is based on data of the first wave of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (2002–2004) and uses event history analysis. The transitions to first, second and third birth are modelled jointly with a control for unobserved heterogeneity. The findings provide evidence for an impact of women’s current church attendance as well as religious socialisation measured by their fathers’ religious affiliation, when they were teenagers. A religious family background remains influential even when a woman has stopped attending church. The effects of religious indicators strengthen over cohorts. Moreover, the combined religious make-up of the respondent’s parents also significantly determines the progression to the third child.


Religion Fertility Third child Netherlands Event history analysis 

Socialisation Religieuse et Fécondité: L’arrivée du Troisième Enfant aux Pays-Bas


S’il est bien établi que les croyants en Europe ont plus d’enfants que les autres, le rôle de la socialisation religieuse dans le contexte de la fécondité contemporaine n’a pas encore été analysé à ce jour. Cette étude s’intéresse au lien entre la socialisation religieuse et la religiosité actuelle, et à leur impact sur la probabilité d’agrandissement de deux à trois enfants de la descendance des femmes néerlandaises. Les données exploitées sont celles de la première vague du Panel Néerlandais d’Etude de la Parenté (the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study, 2002–2004). A l’aide des techniques de l’analyse des biographies, les probabilités d’agrandissement de rang 1, rang 2 et rang 3 ont été modélisées de façon conjointe, en contrôlant l’hétérogénéité non observée. Les résultats mettent en évidence l’impact de la fréquentation actuelle de l’église par les femmes et de leur socialisation religieuse, mesurée par l’appartenance religieuse de leur père quand elles étaient adolescentes. Il apparaît que la religiosité du contexte familial exerce une influence, même quand la femme ne fréquente plus l’église, et que les effets des indicateurs de pratique religieuse se renforcent d’une génération à l’autre. Enfin, l’appartenance religieuse conjointe des parents de la femme détermine significativement la probabilité d’avoir un troisième enfant.


Religion Fécondité Troisième enfant Pays-Bas Analyse biographique 



Many thanks to Michaela Kreyenfeld, Hill Kulu, Dimiter Philipov, Tomáš Sobotka, Arland Thornton and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier drafts of the article. I am also grateful to Sylvia Trnka for language editing. The Netherlands Kinship Panel Study is funded by grant 480-10-009 from the Major Investments Fund of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam and Tilburg University.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria

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