The Impact of Religion on Early Union Formation and Educational Enrollment in Young Adulthood

Charles E. Stokes, University of Texas at Austin

In this study, I use the 1997 cohort of the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY97) to examine how various aspects of religious life are associated with both early union formation and educational enrollment. Broadly, I address two questions. First, does religious association with early union formation help explain religious associations with educational enrollment? Second, do religious associations with union formation and educational enrollment differ by gender? I find that both conservative Protestant young adults and young adults with high levels of religious participation do tend to marry earlier but this does not appear to disrupt their schooling. These associations hold for both women and men, though women (regardless of religious tradition or participation) are more likely than men to interrupt their schooling for marriage. Among religious predictors, only having conservative Protestant parents during adolescence predicts negative educational outcomes, and this effect is relatively stronger for men than women.

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Presented in Session 25: Transition to Adulthood