Race and Social Problems

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 29–41 | Cite as

Predictors of Religiosity in a Cohort of African Americans

  • Janice BowieEmail author
  • Hee Soon Juon
  • Tamara Taggart
  • Roland J. ThorpeJr.
  • Margaret Ensminger


Few studies have considered life course predictors of religiosity. We use the Woodlawn Study of a cohort of 1242 first-grade African American children followed over four time periods to age 42 to observe how early school behaviors, family characteristics and neighborhood and social resources relate to later religiosity. Past literature suggested several domains of religiosity and exploratory factor analyses supported four measures of religiosity: religiosity as a resource, youth religiosity, divine struggle, and young adult religiosity. In multivariate analyses, males rated by teachers as shy in first grade, those with more than a high school education, and females who reported higher social ties in young adulthood were more likely to report religiosity as a resource at age 42. Males with both shy and aggressive behavior in first grade and females with lower math grades in first grade reported more youth religiosity. Those who obtained more education were less likely to report divine struggle. In terms of religiosity as a young adult, females who had been rated as both shy and aggressive in first grade, those living in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of African Americans, those with higher social ties in young adulthood and those living in neighborhoods with a higher proportion of African Americans reported higher adult religiosity. Longitudinal studies offer an opportunity to examine how patterns of religiosity vary over the life course and how early family, school, and social adaptation influence later religiosity in adulthood.


Religiosity Life course African American Gender 



This study was partially supported by grants to Dr. Ensminger from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA026863-01 and R01DA0223366-01A2). Additional support for Dr. Taggart was provided by the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship (Award number 1U50MN000025) and from a predoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (Award number T32AI007001). Drs. Bowie and Thorpe were supported by a Grant from the National Institutes of Health (Award number P60MD000214). We acknowledge the help of our colleague, Dr. Kenneth Pargament. The work could not have been done without the support of the participants of the Woodlawn longitudinal project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health, Behavior, and SocietyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Division of Population Science, Department of Medical OncologyThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health BehaviorUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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