The Rhetoric and Reality of Protestant Fertility in the United States

Conrad Hackett, University of Texas at Austin

Protestant groups in the United States do not usually make official statements regarding optimal fertility levels or birth control practices. However, prominent Protestant leaders advocate four distinct approaches to fertility: Religious Malthusianism, Implicit Natalism, Patriarchal Moderate Natalism, and Patriarchal Extreme Natalism. Scholars have suggested that fertility levels among religious groups have converged but I present new evidence that fertility levels are approximately 10 percent higher among women attending evangelical Protestant, black Protestant, and Catholic congregations compared with women who attend mainline Protestant congregations. Women with no religious affiliation and women who do not regularly attend worship services have much lower fertility than women who have religious affiliations and women who are active in congregations.

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Presented in Poster Session 5