The intergenerational transmission of religious service attendance

Ingrid Storm, David Voas

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Religious change is often described with aggregate figures on affiliation, practice and belief. Such studies tell us that secularisation happens because each cohort is less religious than the one before, and that socialisation in childhood and habits formed in young adulthood are overwhelmingly responsible for religious decline. In this article we use data from the International Social Survey Programme to consider the extent and magnitude of religious decline at the level of families, whether parental influence is greater in more religious countries, and which individual variables influence the intergenerational transmission of religious practice and whether these vary between different countries.We find that secularisation happens largely because many people are a little less religious than their parents, and relatively few are more religious. We also find that the patterns of transmission are remarkably stable: parents are no more influential in religious countries than in nonreligious countries, and there is no indication that they have lost influence over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-150
Number of pages19
JournalNordic Journal of Religion and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Religion
  • Secularisation
  • Socialisation
  • Surveys

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute


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