social science

social science

Quantitative Social Sciences: In the Service of the Good, the True and (Maybe) the Beautiful

children, marriage, social science No comments

The social sciences, well done, cannot but illustrate the way God made man, or the way man is designed by nature.  ‘Well done’ means methodologically well done: well informed by statistical, mathematical and logic sciences.

While man is free to choose he is not free to choose the consequences; they are built into the choices made.  The social sciences can observe his choice (e.g. the choice to abort, or to marry, or to finish high school) and the consequences that flow from these choices.  In this they illustrate some aspects of natural law in action (moral law in action) by making the connection between choice and consequences.

Longitudinal surveys (where the same people are tracked over time) are the most valuable for good social science.  In them one can observe the choice and measure the pathway the person set in motion and the consequences that ensue over time, even over a life time if the survey continues long enough.

Of course, over time myriad factors modify such pathways.   Sometimes new choices are choices that deliberately reverse pathways: by overcoming an addiction; by divorcing; even by remarrying the person they divorced!

What these instances illustrate is the difficulty of ‘PROVING’ causation, in the layman’s understanding of X choice caused Y outcome.   Rather than supporting a determinist view of man, the social sciences support a “modifiable” view of man.  For most of us this comports with our commonsense knowledge of ourselves: we can change, but only gradually in most instances.  And quick changes most often evaporate rather quickly too.  Desirable changes are growth in virtue, which happens slowly and only with repeated acts, repeated over long periods.  Bad habits can form much more quickly as many addicts can attest.

The social sciences are social – to state the obvious, but an obvious truth forgotten most of the time by most of us, especially we Americans and those who hew to a radical individualism.  Man is deeply relational and needs the support of those around him to keep doing what he does.  If we change our social environment (those we relate to) we can change our behavior more easily.  Thus to become holy some choose the company of others determined to achieve the same and enter a monastery, or deliberately choose a spouse who is intent on the same goal.

But children, the most socially dependent of all of us, do not get to choose their own company, their parents, their siblings, nor the neighborhood they live in.  So it is rare for them to rise above the average behavior of their surroundings. It is possible but it is rare. How rare: check out the bell curve.  Most are in the middle, very few at the extremes.

Being deeply relational we are most easily influenced when we are young. Hence parents’ concern to choose good schools, especially schools where the behavior of the other children comports with what they would like to see in their own.  Good teachers in poor neighborhoods are thus some of the most valuable people in a nation: the ones who help those parents who are trying to give their children a leg up. They are the unsung heroes of the social infrastructure.

Good parents are careful to seeks and choose modifiers of their children’s’ behavior (or more precisely), they choose the environment (the social relationships) that will shape their children’s’ behavior.

Thus good parents (along with good teachers) are the “investors” in the future. They are the ones who work to have their children surpass them, to rise further in the next generation, not only in education and income (a common desire of parents) but in virtue and strength, in love, chastity and fidelity. That is how the social infrastructure is built and rebuilt.

Thus the social sciences, in their own way, inform us about the moral dimension of man’s behavior: about good and bad behaviors (though that language is too strong, too politically incorrect for the majority of social scientists; desirable / undesirable, functional / dysfunctional are more acceptable labels).  But no matter the labels, the social sciences tend to flush out those conditions in which man thrives or wilts and the pathways thereto.

Thus they are in the service of the good and the true.  It would be nice to say they are in the service of the beautiful but even for those who love the social sciences that may be a bit of a stretch, for the beauty of good people is hard to see behind the numbers and graphs of the social sciences.  Maybe such capacities will emerge in the future, but for now readers of the social sciences will have to do with merely the true and the good.

The Most Important Chart (Phenomenon) in all of the Social Sciences

divorce, pre-marital sex, sexuality, social science No comments

By now, regular readers of Faith and Family Findings are familiar with the data on family structure and its impact on everything important to a functioning society.  On every outcome measured, for adults and children, those in an intact family do best on all the positive outcomes we desire for ourselves and our children (education, income, savings, health, longevity, happiness, sexual enjoyment, intergenerational support) and have the least incidence of all the negatives we hope never afflict our children (crime, addictions, abuse both physical and sexual, poverty, illiteracy, exclusion, ill health, unhappiness, mental illness, lack of sexual fulfillment).

Thus family structure is exceedingly important to society and a return to intact marriage is a sine qua non for a nation or for families set on rebuilding themselves.

Given that, consider the implications of the following chart on the intactness of marriage at the end of the first five years of marriage:

What this chart shows is the probability of intactness of family after the first five years of marriage– given the number of sexual partners of the spouses have had in their lifetime. Using rounded numbers:  95% of those who are monogamous, that is only one sexual partner in their life time —i.e. only their spouse–95% are still in an intact marriage after the first five years. But for the woman (national average) who has had one extra sexual partner other than her husband (almost always prior to marriage) the percent drops to 62% and with two extra partners it drops almost to 50%.  Thereafter it plateaus.  For men it takes five sexual partners to reach the same level of breakup.

When I first saw this phenomenon in the 1995 data (the above is 2006-2010 data) my immediate reaction was “Those Mediterranean cultures that had chaperoning during courtship knew something about human nature, family life and intergenerational stability.” They ensured Mediterranean family was on the three-love diet.

Chastity and monogamy are foundational to the intact married family, and thus to the prosperity and success of a nation.  Hence my conclusion that this chart is the most important chart in all of the social sciences.

A culture of monogamy is critical to a thriving nation or a thriving culture.

A culture of chastity is foundational to a culture of monogamy.

Thus the cultivation of chastity is central to a robust nation and a robust culture.  Chastity is an old term but now out of favor even among Christians, given the impact of political correctness i.e. cultural Marxism. However it is the accurate label for the virtue or strength behind the data.

For the impact of monogamy at a more causative level check out the work of JD Teachman on Google Scholar  or his CV and you will be able to thread the impact of monogamy in an admirable corpus of cumulative scholarship that is one of the great contributions to research on the family.

Though the above chart is purely correlational – it is demographically descriptive of America, of what is happening between our couples who get married.  One chart cannot prove chastity is causative (go to Teachman and others to tease that out) but it sure indicates where causal strength (or weakness) can be found.

Confusing Research on the Impact of Religion on Children’s Altruism

children, religion, social science 1 comment

A recent study by Jean Decety of the University of Chicago and his collagues sets up an experiment based on sticker-sharing and fake pushing among religious and non-religious children to arrive at a pretty hefty conclusion: “[The findings] call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that the secularization of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness—in fact, it will do just the opposite.”

One might say that this conclusion is laughable, but the media reaction was disturbing. The web was bombarded with headlines claiming “Religious Kids Tend to Be Mean and Selfish Little Jerks,” “Religion Makes Children More Selfish,” and “Religious Children are Meaner than Their Secular Counterparts.” But despite these claims, rigorous social science has shown that religious practice delivers incomparable benefits to society. It is normal and healthy for academics to disagree on the impact of religious practice on different aspects of life. Over the long haul, this helps to clarify reality. However, it is an entirely different pursuit, and not an intellectually honest one, for researchers to intend to knock down religious beliefs and practice. Decety et al. may be doing the latter; their future research will tell. In this study, their handling of the known literature on religious practice and their poor method raises concern that, rather than seeking to add clarity to knowledge, they are only adding confusion.

Past research has repeatedly confirmed the overwhelmingly positive impact that frequent religious practice has on societal outcomes. The Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) has shown that 44 percent of adults who attended religious services monthly or more as an adolescent have volunteered in charitable activities within the past year, whereas 33 percent of those who attended monthly or never volunteered. Arthur Brooks, then a researcher at Syracuse University and now president of the American Enterprise Institute, conducted the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) that drew almost 30,000 observations from fifty U.S. communities, and used rigorous regression to control for political beliefs, income, education level, gender, age, race, marital status, and area of residence. Brooks found that, when all controls are applied, religious people are 23 percent more likely than their secular counterparts to donate money, and 26 percent more likely to volunteer. On average, a religious person gives $1,388 more than a secular person, and volunteers on 6.5 more occasions.

Moreover, Brooks points out that “Religious people are more generous than secular people with nonreligious causes as well as religious ones.” Religious people are 7 percent more likely than their secular counterparts to volunteer for neighborhood and civic groups, 20 percent more likely to help the poor or elderly, 26 percent more likely to volunteer in school/ youth programs, and 10 percent more likely to give to charitable causes.

Just last year a major German-Swiss study investigating issues similar to Decety’s summarized:

The question of whether religiosity is linked to prosocial behavior is currently hotly debated in psychology. This research contributes to this debate by showing that the nature of individuals’ religious orientations and their relationships to prosociality depend on their country’s social enforcement of religiosity. Our analyses of data from more than 70 countries indicate that in countries with no social pressure to follow a religion, religious individuals are more likely to endorse an intrinsic religious orientation (Study 1), engage in charity work (Study 2), disapprove of lying in their own interests (Study 3), and are less likely to engage in fraudulent behaviors (Study 4) compared with non-religious individuals. Ironically, in secular contexts, religious individuals are also more likely to condemn certain moral choices than non-religious individuals (Study 2). These effects of religiosity substantially weaken (and ultimately disappear) with increasing national levels of social enforcement of religiosity.

Let us look a bit more closely at the Decety study. Here are some of the primary mistakes in it:

1.  The reputation of religion now rests on stickers and bumping. Essentially, researchers assessed the altruism of religious and non-religious children by the children’s willingness to share stickers. Each child was presented thirty stickers and told to choose his/ her ten favorite. Next, researchers told the child that there weren’t enough stickers for all the children, and asked the child to anonymously place any stickers he/ she would be willing to share in an envelope. Christian children placed an average of 3.33 stickers, Muslims placed 3.20, and non-religious children placed 4.09.

Next, researchers measured how judgmental religious and non-religious children are by showing each child a series of dynamic scenarios in which one person is pushing or bumping another person (either purposefully or accidently), and assessing the child’s reactions. Muslim children labeled the interpersonal harm as meaner than did Christian children, and Christian children judged the actions to be meaner than non-religious children. Muslim children gave harsher ratings of punishment for the pushers, while there was no significant difference in punishment ratings between Christian and non-religious children.

The response that comes to mind: Give me a break.  That this rather simple study be flaunted to the lay public as proof of the impact of religion is an insult to the academy and to the profession of journalism. 

2. They use an unrepresentative sample. Lead researcher Jean Decety assessed 1,170 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years from six countries to represent the actions of religious children across the world. In the sample, 23.9 percent identified as Christian, 43 percent as Muslim, 27.6 percent as not religious, and 5.2 percent as either Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, or other (0.3 percent are unaccounted for). There are a number of problems with this sample that the authors do not address.

First: Children were selected from Chicago (United States), Toronto (Canada), Amman (Jordan), Izmir and Istanbul (Turkey), Cape Town (South Africa), and Guangzhou (China). It is peculiar, to say that least, that, in a study assessing how religious sentiments are manifested in behavior, researchers include countries that do not allow the free practice of religion. That alone skews and invalidates the results, as the German-Swiss study shows.

Second: The child samples seem to be opportunity samples (or snowball samples). The co-authors are all psychologists, and therefore accustomed to extrapolating from numbers not nationally representative, much less globally representative. The children seem to be from the cities where the different co-authors work.  That is far from nationally random and far from representative.

Third: The breakdown of religions in the sample does not reflect the world’s breakdown of religions. In the study, 23.9 percent are Christian and 43 percent are Muslim; in actuality, 31.4 percent of the world is Christian and 23.2 percent is Muslim.

Four: The sample consists of children ages 5 to 12 years old—a period of major developmental change for children, including significant changes in notions of justice. For academics, experiments help clarify the psychological aspects of altruistic behavior of children in mid-childhood. Only after years of research that control for an increasing number of variables will these experiments yield insights. 

Five:  The study broadly concludes that religion is bad for altruism.  If that conclusion were granted, an even bigger challenge remains for the authors: What is it about religious practice that, in the years between childhood and adulthood, flips the results so that suddenly religion encourages prosociality (as it does for adults)? From academics hostile to religion (and hostility to religion is overrepresented in academia) the response can be anticipated: Religion has nothing to do with people being good. This very argument seems to be the objective of Roy Sablosky’s “Does Religion Foster Generosity?

3. The measures used seem far removed from reality. These researchers determined that generosity in our world is best understood by sticker-sharing and contrived acts of meanness. However, that fails the common-sense credulity test.  The professors need to come up with more realistic experiments.

Professor Luke Galen of the University of Nebraska has spearheaded much of the research debate on these issues, especially in his 2012 publication, “Does Religious Belief Promote Prosociality? A Critical Examination.” The conclusion of the abstract states:  “These factors necessitate a revision of the religious pro-sociality hypothesis and suggest that future research should incorporate more stringent controls in order to reach less ambiguous conclusions.”   

Galen is correct. Religious practice and teachings have an intricate impact on the everyday functioning of society, and should be further investigated. Religion has nothing to fear and everything to gain when the social sciences tease out the variables in play. 

Round Three, the Corruption Continues: Academia and Abortion

abortion, American Psychological Association, Planned Parenthood, social science No comments

The academic corruption MARRI previously described is not limited to same-sex marriage data: it is also present in abortion research. Studies repeatedly show that abortion inflicts mental and physical damage upon a sizeable proportion of women. Nevertheless, the American Psychological Association (APA) and similar professional organizations have refused to acknowledge this research, instead opting to cherry pick studies that support their pro-abortion policy agenda. Such an agenda is expected of Planned Parenthood; however, social science organizations are expected to serve the nation through a dispassionate search for the truth, letting the data do the talking.

The academy’s resistant response to David Fergusson’s research on the effects of abortion on mental health shows the distorting effects of abandoning scientific charter. Fergusson, who followed women over a 30-year period and controlled for over 30 variables, found that abortion can increase the risk of mental disorders. Fergusson, himself “pro-choice,” was already a much published and eminent researcher by the time of his first foray into the abortion field. He commented, “We went to four journals, which is very unusual for us – we normally get accepted the first time… I’m pro-choice but I’ve produced results which, if anything, favor a pro-life viewpoint… It’s obvious I’m not acting out of any agenda except to do reasonable science about a difficult problem.”  He is a true scientist.

In 2008, in an attempt to dismiss a significant number of studies confirming abortion’s link to mental disorders, the American Psychological Association assembled a “Special Task Force” of pro-abortion researchers to evaluate the evidence. To reach their pre-determined conclusion, researchers violated many scientific standards. When questioned, lead author of the Task Force was unwilling to release the data for re-analysis because “It would be very difficult to pull this information together.” Despite these shortcomings, academia holds the APA report as the gold standard of research in this field.

Similar biases have marginalized research on the effect of abortion on physical health. For instance, advances in molecular breast biology and epidemiological studies have repeatedly found a link between abortion and breast cancer. After reviewing and synthesizing the existing research in this field, MARRI concluded that induced abortion is an independent risk factor for breast cancer.  Still the National Cancer Institute refuses to acknowledge this clear evidence.

These professional organizations are expected to be “guardians of scientific standards,” and claim to be so. But by deliberately pursuing the academically corrupt practice of cherry picking data, they become agenda-driven organizations that conceal the truth about how women and their unborn babies are affected.

For example, the academy’s failure to publish research evenhandedly on abortion has made it much easier for Planned Parenthood to use women for their own monetary gain. Recently, the Center for Medical Progress released a video in which senior physicians of Planned Parenthood admit to performing abortions in the manner that most efficiently delivers the most profitable tissue/ organs, which are later sold. While haggling prices with potential tissue buyers, Dr. Mary Gatter, President of the Medical Directors’ Council of Planned Parenthood, laughed, “I want a Lamborghini!” It seems many directors of abortion centers treat the women coming to them as business opportunities for the extraction of the fetal body parts that they carry within them, rather than as vulnerable human beings. Needless to say, providing women with the best research-based information on the mental and physical risks associated with abortion would jeopardize Planned Parenthood’s access to these body parts.

Planned Parenthood has no incentive to tell women the truth about the risks of abortion, while academic organizations like the APA refuse to acknowledge robust social science data revealing these risks. They are both complicit in a collusion of silence. Compassionate care for women involves fully informing them about the procedures they undergo and the effects of those procedures; dispassionate social science begins with an objective evaluation of data and subsequent reporting of robust research. At this stage, sadly, the APA cannot be trusted to abide by these basic expectations. That is an abortion of the role of the social sciences.

A Sad Day for the Social Sciences

American Sociological Association, same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting, SCOTUS, social science, Supreme Court, The National Council of Family Relations No comments
This past week the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage. There has been relatively no discussion of its effect on children, which, many would contend, is the principle reason for government’s involvement in marriage. But even less has been said about what this ruling means for the social science community through the Courts misuse of the research laid before it on children of same-sex couples.
In the Majority Opinion, Justice Kennedy asserts that children would not be harmed by legalizing same-sex marriage. On page 15 of the opinion, he states that same-sex marriage ought to be safeguarded because it “affords the permanency and stability important to children’s best interests”, a position affirmed by The National Council of Family Relations (NCFR) and  The American Sociological Association (ASA).  Their  research clearly influenced the court decision, but it was social science  so bad (and repeatedly defended) its  distortion of the findings had to be  deliberate for there  is no way that research this poor would get such a pass by these two professional bodies on any other issue.
Social science seeks truth through methodological rigor to better inform the academy and the public. The research justifying the assertion that same-sex marriage helps children is repeatedly contradicted by rigorous research (see research from Dr. Paul Sullins, of Catholic University of American here, here, and here).
Furthermore, decades of research demonstrates that children do best when raised by their intact biological parents. Thus NCFR and ASA unwittingly painted themselves into a rather strange corner, as Pat Fagan, Director of The Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), explains:
…The logical conclusion of what they have submitted to the Supreme Court is that there is no impact on a child born to heterosexual parents and then separated from one parent and raised by the other parent and that parent’s new homosexual partner. This claim flatly contradicts incontrovertible evidence that child-parent separation even in a heterosexual context has a significant impact on the children involved. For the ASA’s “consensus” position to hold true, same-sex married parents must be uniquely superior to heterosexual parents in order to erase the natural consequences of such separations.  The conclusion is so implausible that the ASA does not draw it, but instead fills its brief with methods that fail “Statistics 101.
Clearly influenced by the “authority” of ASA and NCFR, the Supreme Court did not even acknowledge, and thus suppressed, the contrary social science evidence presented to them.

Patrick Deneen, professor of constitutional studies at the University of Notre Dame, quoting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in a  First Things commentary, indicates the way forward: “Therein we find, neglected by us, the simplest, the most accessible key to our liberation: a personal nonparticipation in lies! Even if all is covered by lies, even if all is under their rule, let us resist in the smallest way: Let their rule hold not through me!” The data that do not fit are a key to progress in the social sciences.  NCFR and ASA have participated in suppressing data by not allowing research consisting of “contrary data” to be published in their journals. The history of science is littered with such suppressions, which eventually hurt the historical reputations of those involved.  Paraphrasing Chief Justice Roberts (page 29 of his decent), MARRI concludes: “if you are in favor of same-sex marriage, celebrate this ruling, celebrate the changes to come, celebrate that you received what you desired,  but do not celebrate the social science, it had nothing to do with it. It was not present.”

Atlantic Article Misrepresents Catholic Take on Contraception

Atlantic, Catholic, contraception, social science, women No comments

A recent Atlantic article used fatally flawed data to misrepresent Catholic women’s support of the contraception mandate.

According to author Patricia Miller, debate over the Affordable Care Act has mischaracterized women’s healthcare interests. Miller cites a study led by Elizabeth Patton of the University of Michigan to assert that, although a small cohort of Catholic leaders may oppose contraception and abortion, Catholic women are very supportive. There is just one problem: Patton’s study relies on a disastrously biased sample of Catholics.  

According to Ms. Patton’s breakdown of religious service attendance by religious affiliation, zero percentnot one—of the surveyed Catholic women attend Mass weekly. It hardly takes an experienced demographer to realize that Patton’s sample does not accurately represent the Catholic population. A central component of Catholicism includes weekly celebration of the Eucharist, which means going to Mass. However, 190 of the 198 Catholics Patton queried disregard this core tenet of their Faith.  (Eight women surveyed were found to attend Mass more than once a week.) Patton’s 190 women do not represent how practicing Catholic women feel; rather, they represent how women indifferent to the Catholic Faith feel.

So, Patton’s survey essentially interviews Catholic women who are apathetic to their Faith. It is not surprising that this class of Catholics (“nominal” Catholics?) is apathetic to whether their Church is forced to provision abortifacients and contraceptives. Sociologically relevant studies would rather measure how the average Catholic—indifferent or not to her Faith—feels about the mandate. Such unbiased data would represent Catholic women and more honestly shape public debate.

According to a Pew study, 63 percent of weekly church-going Catholics – men and women – believe religiously affiliated institutions should be exempted from the HHS Mandate.  (Only 25 percent say their Church should be required to cover contraceptives; 11 percent respond “Other/ Don’t Know.”)  Importantly, 48 percent of Catholics who do not attend Mass weekly (about half of those Catholics) still oppose mandated coverage. Scientifically sound data indicates that the majority of Catholics do, indeed, oppose the contraception mandate. (This majority feeling is the averaged feeling of all Catholics, indifferent or not to their Faith.)

Patricia Miller’s conclusion that Catholic women support contraception coverage, and that only Catholic pundits oppose it, cannot be held. Ms. Miller has made a career on asserting that “good Catholics” (her phrase) can support contraception and abortion despite the Church’s teaching.  Unfortunately for her assertions, the data show the opposite:  It is the most lax, the most cherry-picked, Catholics that agree with her.

Understanding Homosexuality

abstinence, Christianity, conscience, culture, news, Rick Warren, same-sex attraction, social science 1 comment

By Maria Reig Teetor, Intern 

Last Tuesday, evangelical pastor Rick Warren appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” to discuss the controversial question whether people are born gay or develop gay attractions.

With the recent political campaign we have heard this topic covered in the media as gay activists are pushing for same sex marriage to be legal. As of November it is legal in 9 different states.

After listening to Rick Warren’s statement I realized that at the core of the debate is our understanding of what it means to identify as gay. We need to talk about this issue and not just fight the legal battles. Talking helps plant the seed that will start people thinking about what it means to have gay attractions versus acting upon those attractions.

The first step in talking about it is to make a clear distinction about what sexual orientation means, as Peter Sprigg explains in “Debating Homosexuality: Understanding Two Views.” Sexual orientation is an umbrella term for three different aspects of sexuality: sexual attraction, when one is sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex, the same sex, or both; sexual conduct, whether the individual chooses to act upon that attraction; and self-identification, whether the individual thinks of himself as “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “straight.”

Gay lobbyists assume that all three are consistent with one another, but based on the research, that is clearly not true.

Should an individual who feels attracted to someone of the same sex (because of the environment he or she has been exposed to, peer pressure, loneliness, or some internal self-identification) act upon these attractions? No, not necessarily.

We all have tendencies that aren’t in accordance with our God-given nature, but it doesn’t mean we choose to engage them.  As Pastor Rick Warren explained, “I have all kinds of feelings in my life and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I should act on every feeling. Sometimes I get angry and I feel like punching a guy in the nose. It doesn’t mean I act on it.”

So, what if someone responds, “I was born this way, I cannot change my attractions”? To this we can answer, first, that the research has not found any “gay gene” or related biological issue that proves someone is born with gay attractions, but that it’s a result of a complex mix of developmental factors. For instance, MARRI research shows that a young woman is more likely to experiment with a lesbian partner if she was raised in a non-intact family.

Second, as Pastor Rick mentioned, we can all be drawn to something that is not good for us or that is not according to our nature, but that doesn’t make it right. He gave the following example: “Sometimes I feel attracted to women who are not my wife. I don’t act on it. Just because I have a feeling doesn’t make it right.”

Those individuals who feel same-sex attractions should be treated with the same respect and kindness we treat any person, but that does not mean we should embrace their actions. We must fight to defend an understanding of sexuality that is in accord with our human nature and human dignity.

In order to do that we must first understand the core of homosexuality: attractions exist, but attractionsare not actions. This is especially important for helping adolescents who are confused by a false explanation of same-sex attraction or caught up in homosexual behaviors. Young people should be educated about the moral nature of every decision they make, including their sexual decisions.

The Benefits of Religious Worship: Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

MARRI, religion, social institutions, social science No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

U.S. federal surveys repeatedly show the benefits of weekly religious worship of God (one of the five main institutions or tasks of society). Worship’s rewards flow over to all the other major institutions of the nation: to the family, to education, to the marketplace and income, and to government…Furthermore, the more frequently people worship, the more they profit. If the social sciences say anything clearly about God, it is that the more people take heed of Him, the more He takes care of them.

The publication contains data on all sorts of social and personal outcomes, such as educational attainment, family strength, sexual chastity, and more. Across all categories, it is clear that weekly worship contributes to the strongest outcomes.

This publication is comprised of graphics that originally appeared in the MARRI Mapping America series, which are derived from data from the largest national and federal surveys on family issues, such as the General Social Survey, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the National Survey of Children’s Health, and the National Survey of Family Growth.

We hope that the findings shown here encourage our readers, in this holiday season, to worship weekly and to reap the advantages that consistent religious practice offers to families, individuals, their communities, and the nation.

Pew Report Shows Percent of Married Americans is at a Record Low

MARRI, marriage, news, social institutions, social science No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data…In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years.

The full report states that approximately 44% of 18- to 29-year-olds agree that marriage is “becoming obsolete,” compared to 41% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 34% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 32% of those 65 and older. Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to believe that marriage was becoming obsolete than whites, and those without a college degree (some college: 41%, high school or less: 45%) were far more likely to agree that marriage was becoming obsolete than Americans with a college degree (27%).

However, the report also states that “attitudes toward the institution of marriage do not always match personal wishes about getting married. Asked whether they want to get married, 47% of unmarried adults who agree that marriage is becoming obsolete say that they would like to wed.”

In its reporting on this Pew publication, the Washington Post included an interactive map showing the family structure and population density of the United States by county and state. The map showed that 44% of residents in the District of Columbia live alone, 14.1% are married with no children, 10.6% are single parents, and a mere 7.9% are married with children.

For more on marriage trends and on the economic and social need to preserve marriage, see the Pew Research Center’s series The Decline of Marriage and MARRI Original Research papers “Decline of Economic Growth: Human Capital & Population Change,” “Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend and Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage” and “Marriage, Contraception & The Future of Western Peoples.”

Kicking Bad Habits: Does Fatherhood Help?

crime, family, fathers, men's health, social science No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

Science Daily reported that a 19-year study published recently in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that becoming a father lessens a man’s likelihood to consume alcohol or tobacco or to commit crimes, apart from the process of maturing with age.

The authors found that men who became fathers well into their 20s or 30s were more likely to kick their habits than men who became fathers in their teens or early 20s.

One of the authors, assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University David Kerr, said they drew encouraging information from their research: “This research suggests that fatherhood can be a transformative experience, even for men engaging in high risk behavior…This presents a unique window of opportunity for intervention, because new fathers might be especially willing and ready to hear a more positive message and make behavioral changes.”