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Return to Religion? Predictors of Religious Change among Baby-Boomers in their Transition to Later Life


In this paper, we investigated the correlates of change in religiosity among babyboomers as they aged from their 50s to their 60s. Change was assessed as a function of cognitive and behavioral manifestations of religious involvement, early religious participation, and challenges that emerged over this period of life. Using qualitative and quantitative data from 599 respondents in the 2016 wave of the Longitudinal Study of Generations, we examined retrospectively assessed religious change over the previous ten years and the precipitating reasons for such change. Religiosity was most likely to remain stable, but a significant minority of the sample became more religious over the past ten years; reasons included a shift away from worldly concerns, coping with loss and health problems, and intergenerational continuity. Structural equation modeling found that early exposure to religion strengthened religiosity through its association with both stronger cognitive and behavioral aspects of religious involvement. Losing of a partner, experiencing economic decline, and having health problems either increased or stabilized religiosity, complementing results from qualitative responses. In general, religious change, when it did occur, was in a positive direction and served as a resource for dealing with health and social losses. We anticipate this trend to intensify as baby-boomers advance to even later stages of the life-course.

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Correspondence to Merril Silverstein.

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Silverstein, M., Bengtson, V.L. Return to Religion? Predictors of Religious Change among Baby-Boomers in their Transition to Later Life. Population Ageing 11, 7–21 (2018).

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  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Religious coping
  • Gerotranscendence
  • Baby-boomers