Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 825–833 | Cite as

“My Religion Picked My Birth Control”: The Influence of Religion on Contraceptive Use

  • Nicholas J. HillEmail author
  • Mxolisi Siwatu
  • Alexander K. Robinson
Original Paper


This research investigates the influence of religious preference and practice on the use of contraception. Much of earlier research examines the level of religiosity on sexual activity. This research extends this reasoning by suggesting that peer group effects create a willingness to mask the level of sexuality through the use of contraception. While it is understood that certain religions, that is, Catholicism does not condone the use of contraceptives, this research finds that Catholics are more likely to use certain methods of contraception than other religious groups. With data on contraceptive use from the Center for Disease Control’s Family Growth Survey, a likelihood probability model is employed to investigate the impact religious affiliation on contraception use. Findings suggest a preference for methods that ensure non-pregnancy while preventing feelings of shame and condemnation in their religious communities.


Contraception Family planning Religiosity Religion Race Poverty Choice 


  1. Arano, K. G., & Blair, B. (2008). Modeling religious behavior and economic outcome: Is the relationship bicausal? Evidence from a Survey of Mississippi households. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 37, 2043–2053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Azzi, C., & Ehrenberg, R. (1975). Household allocation of time and church attendance. Journal of Political Economy, 83(1), 27–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1965). A theory of the allocation of time. The Economic Journal, 75(299), 493–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Billy, J. O. G., Brewster, K. L., & Grady, W. R. (1994). Contextual effects on the sexual behavior of adolescent women. Journal of Marriage Family, 56, 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gaydos, L. M., Smith, A., Hogue, C., & Bevins, J. (2010). An emerging field in religion and reproductive health. Journal of Religion and Health, 49, 473–484.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Grady, W., Klepinger, D., & Billy, J. (1993). The influence of community characteristics on the practice of effective contraception. Family Planning Perspectives, 25(1), 4–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Granger, M., & Price, G. N. (2004). Does religion have an impact on risky sexual behavior?: An economic approach. MURC PA-04-115.Google Scholar
  8. Granger, M. D., & Price, G. N. (2007). The tree of science and original sin: Do christian religious beliefs constrain the supply of scientists? The Journal of Socio-Economics, 36(1), 144–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grasmick, H., Bursik, R., & Cochran, J. (1991). Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s: Religiosity and taxpayers’ inclinations to cheat. Sociological Quarterly, 32, 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hansson, I., & Stuart, C. (1990). Malthusian selection of preferences. American Economic Review, 80(3), 529–544.Google Scholar
  11. Heineck, G. (2001). The determinants of church attendance and religious human capital in Germany: Evidence from panel data. DIW discussion paper no. 263, pp. 1–23.Google Scholar
  12. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hollander, G., Kahana, N., & Lecker, T. (2003). Religious and secular human capital: An economic model. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 32, 489–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lammers, C., Ireland, M., Resnick, M., & Blum, R. (2000). Influences on adolescents’ decision to postpone onset of sexual intercourse: A survival analysis of virginity among youths aged 13 to 18 years. Journal of Adolescent Health, 26(1), 42–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lehrer, E. (1995). The effects of religion on the labor supply of married women. Social Science Research, 24, 281–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McCleary, R. M., & Barros, R. J. (2006). Religion and economy. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2), 49–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Meier, A. M. (2003). Adolescents’ transition to first intercourse: Religiosity, and attitudes about sex. Social Forces, 81(3), 1031–1052.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Resnick, M. D., Bearman, P. S., Blum, R. W., Bauman, K. E., Harris, K. M., Jones, J., et al. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from The National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. Journal of the American Medical Association, 278(10), 823–832.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rogers, A. R. (1994). The evolution of time preference by natural selection. American Economic Review, 84(3), 460–481.Google Scholar
  20. Stark, R. (1996). Religion as context: Hellfire and delinquency one more time. Sociology of Religion, 57, 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thornier, A., & Camburn, D. (1987). The influence of the family on premarital sexual attitudes and behavior. Demography, 24(3), 323–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Thornton, A., & Camburn, D. (1989). Religious participation and adolescent sexual behavior and attitudes. Journal of Marriage Family, 51, 641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Whitbeck, L. B., Yoder, K. A., Hoyt, D. R., & Conger, R. D. (1999). Early adolescent sexual activity: A developmental study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61(4), 934–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wilcox, B. L., Rostosky, S. S., Randall, B. A., et al. (2001). Reasons for hope: A review of research on adolescent religiosity and sexual behavior. In B. D. Whitehead, B. L. Wilcox, & S. S. Rostosky (Eds.), Keeping the faith: The role of religion and faith communities in preventing teen pregnancy (pp. 31–82). Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas J. Hill
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mxolisi Siwatu
    • 2
  • Alexander K. Robinson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Economics, Finance, and General BusinessJackson State UniversityJacksonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyTexas Southern UniversityHoustonUSA
  3. 3.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations