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Religiosity and reproductive decisions in Europe

PhD ceremony:Mr C. (Christoph) Bein
When:January 25, 2021
Supervisors:A.M.H. (Anne) Gauthier, prof. dr. M. Mynarska
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Religiosity and reproductive decisions in Europe

Religiosity has strongly declined in Europe since the 1960s. This is part of a broader trend towards secularization and individualization. We know from prior studies that religiosity still continues to be an important determinant of fertility. Yet, the mechanisms behind this relationship, as well as the cross-national differences are not well understood.In this thesis, the relationship between religiosity and reproductive decisions is approached from different angles, using data from the Generations and Gender Survey and the pairfam. Three key results emerge from the analysis. First, it is found that religiosity is positively related to the planning to have children (fertility intentions), in the same way as previous studies found for fertility behaviour. It was also revealed that this relationship between religiosity and fertility intentions vary across countries. Second, there is also evidence for gender-specific differences in the mechanisms of how religiosity translates into higher fertility. Specifically, highly religious women do not base their childbearing decisions on perceived costs of having children, contrary to less religious women and all men. Third, the results suggest that religiosity is a rather independent variable in the fertility decision making process, in particular it does not interact with variables related to gender roles and gender equity. All in all this thesis demonstrates that religiosity is still a powerful determinant of reproductive decisions in a secularizing Europe and likely continues to shape population dynamics across the continent.