Study Finds Fertility of Conservative Protestants Has Declined Dramatically in Recent Generations

Conservative Protestants aren’t making many babies these days.

While conservative Protestants have historically been associated with high rates of fertility, dramatic declines in recent generations now make them indistinguishable from mainline Protestants and Catholics, according to a new study.

The study used General Social Survey data from 1972 to 2016 to compare fertility patterns for Protestants and Catholics of childbearing age. Conservative Protestants (which includes both black Protestants and white evangelicals) used to have the highest birth rates overall, but the study found they had the largest decline in birth rates during the period studied.

The research also found that high church attendance stabilizes, or boosts, fertility for Catholics and mainline Protestants, but makes no difference for conservative Protestants.

“Are the faithful becoming less fruitful? The decline of conservative protestant fertility and the growing importance of religious practice and belief in childbearing in the US,” by University of Oklahoma sociologists Samuel Perry and Cyrus Schleifer, was published in the Feb. 2019 edition of Social Science Research.

In 1972, conservative Protestants who went to church monthly or more had on average 2.89 children. The conservative Protestants who went to church less often had 2.83 kids, a statistically insignificant difference. By 2016, both of those numbers dropped the same amount, about 16 percent, putting churchgoing conservative Protestants at around 2.5 births on average.

Mainline Protestants began with lower fertility than conservative Protestants, at 2.48. And, their birth rate also decreased 16 percent by 2016. But, the birth rate for mainline Protestants who went to church monthly or more remained mostly stable, and may even increase.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Napp Nazworth