Private religious schools are widely seen as value-laden communities that mold the character of their students. Thus, we expect adults who attended religious schools as children to demonstrate more favorable family outcomes related to stable marriages and childbearing. We further expect Protestant schooling to have a more powerful effect on marital outcomes than Catholic schooling, given the heavier focus of Protestantism on marriage. Finally, we expect stronger positive associations between religious schooling and marital outcomes for adults who grew up in difficult circumstances compared to adults who grew up in advantaged circumstances. We test these hypotheses using survey data from the Understanding America Study. Our three outcome variables are ever marrying and never divorcing, ever divorcing, and conceiving a child out-of-wedlock. Most of the results confirm our hypotheses. Protestant schooling is associated with more positive marital outcomes across all three measures. Catholic schooling is significantly correlated with a lower likelihood of having a child outside of marriage. The associations between religious schooling and desirable marriage outcomes are strongest for adults who grew up poor and for those raised in intact families.
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Wolf, P. J., Cheng, A., Wang, W., & Wilcox, W. (2022). The School to Family Pipeline: What Do Religious, Private, and Public Schooling Have to Do with Family Formation?. Journal of Catholic Education. https://doi.org/10.15365/joce.2501092022