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“Ever had an Unwed Pregnancy” by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin

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The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that females who grew up in intact families and who frequently attend religious services are least likely to have had an unwed pregnancy.

Description: Examining structure of family of origin, 19 percent of females who grew up in an intact married family have had an unwed pregnancy, followed by females from intact cohabiting families (26 percent), single divorced-parent families (36 percent) and married stepfamilies (36 percent), cohabiting stepfamilies (37 percent), and always-single parent families (54 percent).

Examining only current religious attendance, 16 percent of females who worship at least weekly have had an unwed pregnancy, followed by those who attend religious services between one and three times a month (25 percent) and those who attend religious services less than once monthly (25 percent), and those who never attend religious services (27 percent).

Examining current religious attendance and structure of family of origin combined, 18 percent of females who worship weekly and grew up in intact families have had an unwed pregnancy. By contrast, 40 percent of females who never attend religious services and come from non-intact family backgrounds have at some point become pregnant out of wedlock. Between these two extremes are those who never worship and grew up in intact families (24 percent) and those who attend religious services weekly but grew up in non-intact families (33 percent).

Related Insights from Other Studies

Studies based on the 1995 General Social Survey show that family structure affects the unwed pregnancy rate. According to Valerie Martin of McGill University, when compared with peers from intact families, adolescent and young adult women who experienced parental divorce were significantly more likely to give birth out of wedlock.[1]

Using this same survey, Jay Teachman of Western Washington University also found intact families to be protective in many ways: Compared with peers from other family structures, women who grew up in intact families were less likely to form high-risk marriages, to cohabit before marriage, or to have a premarital birth or conception.[2]

Another study demonstrated the protective nature of the family’s religion: When compared with peers whose mothers had not frequently attended religious services, 18-year-olds whose mothers attended religious services often were more likely to have disapproving attitudes towards premarital sex, cohabitation, abortion, and divorce.[3]

The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Survey also showed the impact of religion on urban mothers, finding that urban mothers who attend church frequently are at least 70 percent more likely to be married when they give birth or to get married within one year of a nonmarital birth than are urban mothers who do not attend church frequently. [4]

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Scott Talkington, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Scott Talkington has been Research Director for the National Association of Scholars and Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University School of Public Policy since 1998.

[1] Martin, Valerie, “The Consequences of Parental Divorce on the Life Course Outcomes of Canadian Children.” Canadian Studies in Population, Vol. 32, No. 1 (2005) pp. 29-51.

[2] Teachman, Jay D. “The Childhood Living Arrangements of Children and the Characteristics of Their Marriages.” Journal of Family Issues Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 2004) pp. 86-111.

[3] Pearce, L.D. & Thronton, A. “Religious Identity and Family Ideologies in the Transition to Adulthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family Vol. 69 (2007) pp. 1227-1243.

[4] “Religion and Marriage in Urban America” Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Princeton University Social Indicators Survey Center, Columbia University, Fragile Families Research Brief No. 24 (June 2004) pp. 1-4.

“Ever Had Intercourse at 14 Years of Age or Younger”

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by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin

The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that, among adolescents 14 and younger, those who grew up in married, intact families and currently attend weekly religious services are the least likely to have had sexual intercourse.

Description: Examining structure of family of origin, 12 percent of adolescents who grew up in an intact married family ever had sexual intercourse at 14 years of age or younger, followed by children of intact cohabiting families (14 percent), children of married stepfamilies (23 percent), single divorced-parent families (25 percent), cohabiting stepfamilies (27 percent) and always-single parent households (35 percent).

Examining only current religious attendance, only 14 percent of adolescents who currently attend weekly religious services have ever had sexual intercourse at 14 years of age or younger, compared to those who attend church one to three times a month (20 percent), less than monthly (24 percent), and those who never attend church (26 percent).

Examining current religious attendance and structure of family of origin combined, only 9 percent of adolescents who grew up in intact married families and currently attend church weekly have ever had sexual intercourse at 14 years of age or younger, followed by those who never attend church but grew up in an always intact married family (16 percent). Twenty-two percent of adolescents from all other family structures who attend church weekly have ever had sexual intercourse at 14 years of age or younger, followed by those who never attend church and grew up in all other family structures (29 percent).

Related Insights from Other Studies

Data from the Longitudinal cohort study, Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, found that adolescents aged 11 to 16 who were living with their biological parents were less likely to engage in sexual intercourse than were their peers who lived without both biological parents. [1] Data from a different study confirmed this same trend, that teens that live with both parents are significantly less likely to have ever had intercourse than their peers who do not live with both parents.[2]

Data from the National Survey of Family Growth also found that young girls who live with both of their biological parents at age 14 have a lower risk of first sexual intercourse than their peers who do not live with both biological parents at 14.[3]

One study found that those adolescents who emphasized the importance of religion in their lives were less likely to engage in premarital sexual activity. In this study, young women who attended church once or more per week were less likely to be sexually active than those who attended less often. Thirty-eight percent of young women who attended church once or more per week were sexually active. Of those who attended church less often, 65.4 percent were sexually active.[4]

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Scott Talkington, Ph.D.

Pat Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Scott Talkington has been Research Director for the National Association of Scholars and Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University School of Public Policy since 1998.

[1] Browning, C.R. T. Leventhal and J. Brooks-Gunn, “Neighborhood context and racial differences in early adolescent sexual activity, “Demography 41(4) 2004, PP. 697-720.

[2] Collins, R.L., M.N. Elliot, S.H. Berry, D.E. Kanouse, D. Kunkel, S.B. Hunter, “Watching sex on television predicts adolescent initiation of sexual behavior,” Pediatrics 114( 3) 2004, pp. 280-289.

[3] Brewster, K. L., E.C. Cooksey, D.K. Guiley, R.R. Rindfuss, “The changing impact of religion on the sexual and contraceptive behavior of adolescent women in the United States,” Journal of Marriage and Family 60(2) 1998, pp. 493-504..

[4] Studer, Marlena, Arland Thornton, “Adolescent Religiosity and Contraceptive Usage,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 49(1) 1987, pp. 117-128.

“Fathers Who Have Ever Encouraged an Abortion” by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin

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The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that men who grew up in intact married families and attend religious services at least weekly are less likely to encourage the mother of their child to have an abortion.

Description: Examining current religious attendance, only 5 percent of fathers who attend religious services at least once a week are likely to have encouraged the mother’s abortion. Six percent of fathers who never attend religious services, 8 percent of fathers who attend religious services at least monthly, and 8 percent of fathers who attend less than once a month are likely to be the reason the mother obtains an abortion.

Examining structure of family of origin, 4 percent of fathers from intact married families ever encourage women to have an abortion. Next are fathers from married stepfamilies, who are twice as likely to encourage women to have an abortion (8 percent), fathers from single divorced-parent families (10 percent), fathers from cohabiting stepfamilies (11 percent), and fathers from always-single parent families (15 percent). Fathers from intact cohabiting families are most likely to encourage a mother to have an abortion (17 percent).

Examining current religious attendance and structure of family of origin combined, only 3 percent of fathers who grew up in intact married families and who now worship at least weekly are likely to be the father who encourages a woman to abort his child. Two percent of fathers who grew up in intact married families but never attend religious services are likely to be the father who encourages a woman to abort his child, compared to fathers who grew up in all other family structures and never attend religious services (9 percent) and fathers who grew up all other family structures but attend weekly religious services (9 percent).

Related Insights from Other Studies
According to the Intergenerational Panel Study of Parents and Children, a 31-year-long study, 18-year-olds who said religion played an important role in their lives tended to be less supportive of abortion (as well as premarital sex, cohabitation, and divorce) than were their peers who said religion was less important to them.[1]

Another study found the responses of men who father a child out of wedlock vary according to the characteristics of their own family of origin. Fathers who had grown up in a family that received welfare were less likely to marry their baby’s mother than their peers whose families had not received welfare. White men were 39 percent less likely to marry their baby’s mother and Black men were 6 percent less likely to marry their baby’s mother.[2] Additionally, according to the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Black men who live in the South are more likely to marry the mother of their baby than Black men who live in other regions, in the event of a non-marital pregnancy.[3] Broken families are exceptionally likely to be impoverished or rely on welfare.[4] Additionally, though belonging is higher in the West, the South has a higher index of belonging than both the Midwest and the Northeast.[5] It may be that welfare and region are, in this case, proxies for family structure, and that broken families of origin contribute to the decreased likelihood that a father will marry the mother of his out-of-wedlock child. This finding dovetails with the fact that broken families of origin contribute to the increased likelihood that a father will encourage the mother of his child to abort it.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Scott Talkington, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Scott Talkington has been Research Director for the National Association of Scholars and Senior Research Fellow at George Mason University School of Public Policy since 1998.

[1] L.D. Pearce and A. Thornton, “Religious Identity and Family Ideologies in the Transition to Adulthood,” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 69 (2007): 1227-1243.

[2] Madeline Zavodny, “Do Men’s Characteristics Affect Whether a Nonmarital Pregnancy Results in Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 61 (August 1999): 764-773.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Patrick F. Fagan, Andrew J. Kidd, and Henry Potrykus, Marriage and Economic Well-Being: The Economy of the Family Rises or Falls with Marriage (Washington, D.C.: Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a project of the Family Research Council, 2011) [database online]; available from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11E70.pdf : 16-20.

[5] Patrick F. Fagan, The US Index of Belonging and Rejection (Washington, D.C.: Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a project of the Family Research Council, 2010) [database online]; available from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10L25.pdf : 17, Chart 4.

Feels Thrilled, Excited During Intercourse with Current Sexual Partner

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The 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey shows that, of adults aged 18 to 59, those in intact marriages who worship weekly were most likely to report feeling thrilled and excited during intercourse with their current sexual partner.

Religious attendance: Those who worship weekly (91.7 percent) were most likely to report feeling thrilled and excited during intercourse with their current sexual partner, followed by those who worship less than weekly but at least monthly (89.1 percent), those who worship less than monthly (87.2 percent), and those who never worship (84.6 percent).

Marital status: Those in always-intact marriages were most likely (91.3 percent) to report feeling thrilled and excited during intercourse with their current sexual partner, followed by those who were divorced and remarried (88.9 percent), those who were always single (82.7 percent), and those who were divorced or separated (81.8 percent).

Religious attendance and marital status combined: Those in intact marriages who worship weekly (93.7 percent) were most likely to report feeling thrilled and excited during intercourse with their current sexual partner. Those in non-intact family structures and singles who worship weekly (87.2 percent), those in intact marriages who never worship (85.2 percent), and those in non-intact family structures and singles who never worship (83.1 percent) are less likely to feel thrilled and excited.

Related Insight from Other Studies

Married men and women report the most sexual pleasure and fulfillment[1] and have more enjoyable sexual intercourse more often.[2] Among healthy senior citizens aged 80 to 102, married men and women are more likely to engage in and enjoy sexual activity and intercourse.[3]

Very religious women report greater satisfaction in sexual intercourse with their husbands than do moderately religious or non-religious women.[4]

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Althea Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] Robert T. Michael et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1994), 124-129; Edward O. Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 364, table 10.5; Andrew Greeley, Faithful Attraction: Discovering Intimacy, Love and Fidelity in American Marriage (New York: Tom Doherty Association, 1991), see chapter 6. As cited in Glenn T. Stanton, “Why Marriage Matters.” Available at http://www.ampartnership.org/resourcecenter/news/89-why-marriage-matters.html (accessed July 27, 2011).

[2] Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially. As cited by Richard Niolon. Available at http://successfulsingles.com/media_articles_files/The%20Case%20for%20Marriage:%20Why%20Married%20People%20Are%20Happier,%20Healthier,%20and%20Better%20off%20Financially.pdf (accessed 27 July 2011).

[3] Judy G. Bretschneider and Norma L. McCoy, “Sexual Interest and Behavior in Healthy 80- to 102-Year-Olds,” Archives of Sexual Behaviors 17, no. 2 (1988): 125.

[4] Carol Tavris and Susan Sadd, The Redbook Report on Female Sexuality (New York: Delacorte Press, 1977).

Feels Scared, Afraid During Intercourse with Current Sexual Partner

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The 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey shows that, of adults aged 18 to 59, those in intact marriages and those who worship weekly were least likely to report feeling scared or afraid during intercourse with their current sexual partner.

Religious attendance: Those who worship weekly (3 percent) were least likely to feel scared or afraid during intercourse with their current sexual partner, followed by those who worship less than weekly but at least monthly (5 percent), those who never worship (5.9 percent), and those who worship less than monthly (6.9 percent).

Marital status: Those in always-intact marriages were least likely (2.4 percent) to feel scared or afraid during intercourse with their current sexual partner, followed by those who were divorced and remarried (3.1 percent). Those who were divorced or separated (10.3 percent) and those who were always single (11.2 percent) were much more likely to feel scared or afraid.

Religious attendance and marital status combined: Those in intact marriages who never worship (.7 percent)[1] were least likely to feel scared or afraid during intercourse with their current sexual partner, followed closely by those in intact marriages who worship weekly (1.7 percent). Those in non-intact family structures and singles who worship weekly (4.9 percent) were more likely to feel scared or afraid, and those in non-intact family structures and singles who never worship (8.3 percent) were even more so.

Related Insight from Other Studies

Though the National Health and Social Life Survey included only adults, data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows those who worship weekly are least likely (14 percent) to have intercourse at or before age 14. Those who worship less than weekly but at least monthly (20 percent), those who worship less than monthly (24 percent), and those who never worship (26 percent) were much more likely to have had intercourse at or before age 14.[2] Sexual debut at such an early age may contribute to fear during intercourse

Among unmarried girls who have never had intercourse, those who were adamant about their unlikelihood to engage in premarital intercourse (“adamant virgins”) were very likely (50 percent) to report that religious or moral reservations were their primary reason for abstaining, compared to a very small proportion (2 percent) of virgin girls who did not report that they were very unlikely to engage in premarital sex (“potential nonvirgins”). However, 15 percent of these potential nonvirgins reported that their primary reason for abstaining was fear of pregnancy, compared to only 7 percent of adamant virgins.[3]

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Althea Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This group being the “best” situation is unusual and worth noting because it breaks the standard pattern.

[2] Marriage and Religion Research Institute, “The Benefits of Religious Worship: Positive Outcomes Associated with Weekly Worship,” (2011): 12. Available at www.marri.us/benefits-religious-worship. Accessed July 3, 2012.

[3] Edward S. Herold and Marilyn Shirley Goodwin, “Adamant Virgins, Potential Nonvirgins and Nonvirgins,” The Journal of Sex Research 17, no. 2 (May 1981): 108-109.

Has Ever Paid or Been Paid for Sex

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The 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey shows that, of adults aged 18 to 59, those in intact marriages who worship weekly were least likely to have ever paid or been paid for sex.

Religious attendance: Those who worship weekly (6.2 percent) are least likely to have ever paid or been paid for sex, followed by those who worship less than weekly but at least monthly (7.6 percent), those who worship less than monthly (10.2 percent), and those who never worship (10.9 percent).

Marital status: Those in always-intact marriages were least likely (6.5 percent) to have ever paid or been paid for sex, followed by those who were always single (6.6 percent), those who were divorced and remarried (11.6 percent), and those who were divorced or separated (12.1 percent).

Religious attendance and marital status combined: Those in intact marriages who worship weekly (5.1 percent) are the least likely to have ever paid or been paid for sex. Those in non-intact family structures and singles who worship weekly (6.5 percent) and those in intact marriages who never worship (7.1 percent) are slightly more likely to have ever paid or been paid for sex; however, those in non-intact family structures and singles who never worship (13.1 percent) are much more likely to have done so.

Related Insight from Other Studies

Of a sample of over 400 Hispanic migrant workers in North Carolina, most of whom were Mexican, Honduran, and Salvadorian, those who were married and lived with their spouses were significantly less likely to have relations with a prostitute (5 percent) than single men (46 percent) or married men whose wives had remained in their country of origin (40 percent).[1]

A study of HIV-1 prevalence among east African trucking company workers found that, of the cohort, a smaller percentage of Muslims had ever had relations with a prostitute (48 percent) than adherents to other religions (58 percent).[2]

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Pat Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council.

Althea Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] Emilio A. Parrado, Chenoa A. Flippen, and Chris McQuiston, “Use of Commercial Sex Workers Among Hispanic Migrants In North Carolina: Implications for the Spread of HIV,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 36, no. 4 (2004): 153.

[2] Joel Rakwar, Ludo Lavreys, Mary Lou Thompson, Denis Jackson, Job Bwayo, Salim Hassanali, Kishorchandra Mandaliya, Jeckoniah Ndinya-Achola, and Joan Kreiss, “Cofactors for the acquisition of HIV-1 among heterosexual men: prospective cohort study of trucking company workers in Kenya,” AIDS 13 (1999): 609.

Percentage of Adolescents Who Have Ever Engaged in Sexual Intercourse By Family Structure and Religious Worship

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Wave I of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health)[1] found that teenagers in intact families that worshipped weekly were least likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse.

Family Structure: At the time of the survey, fewer 13- to 19-year-olds in intact families had ever engaged in sexual intercourse than those in non-intact families. Adolescents in intact married families were least likely to have ever had sex (31.8%), followed by those in cohabiting stepfamilies (39.5%), married stepfamilies (40.6%), single-parent divorced families (43.7%), and always single-parent families (49.1%). Teenagers from intact cohabiting families were most likely to have ever had sexual intercourse (50.4%).

Religious Worship: The likelihood that an adolescent had ever had sex decreased as the adolescent’s religious involvement increased. Thirteen to nineteen year-olds who attended religious services weekly or more within the past year were less likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse (30.9%) than those who attended less than monthly but not weekly (36.0%), less than monthly (39.9%), or never (44.9%).

Family Structure and Religious Worship Combined: Teenagers in intact worshipping families were least likely to have ever engaged in sexual intercourse (27.2%). Thirteen to nineteen year olds in intact non-worshipping families (38.8%) and non-intact worshipping families (38.9%) were more likely to have ever had sex. Teenagers in non-intact families that did not worship were most likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse (53.8%).

Related Insights from Other Studies: A large body of research shows that teens who worship frequently are less likely to be sexually active. Likewise, youth who receive spiritual support from friends and family are less likely to engage in sex, and girls who attend church are less likely to experience a teenage pregnancy.[2] Eva S. Lefkowitz, Meghan M. Gillen, Cindy L. Shearer, and Tanya L. Boone found that religious behavior was the strongest predictor of sexual behavior.[3]

Studies have found that teenagers who place a large emphasis on religion are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. They are less likely to abuse alcohol, use marijuana, smoke,[4] or engage in delinquency.[5] Frequent religious worship among adolescents is a powerful good that will naturally benefit society.

[1] The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) is a congressionally-mandated longitudinal survey of American adolescents. Add Health interviewed a random sample of 20,745 adolescents aged 13-19 in 1995 drawn from junior high and high schools (Wave I) and has followed them in successive waves in 2001 (Wave III) and 2009 (Wave IV).

[2] Sharon S. Rostosky, Brian L. Wilcox, Margaret L.C. Wright, and Brandy Randall, “The Impact of religiosity on Adolescent Sexual Behavior: A Review of the Evidence,” Journal of Adolescent Research: 19 (2004): 677-697.

[3]Eva S. Lefkowitz, Meghan M. Gillen, Cindy L. Shearer, and Tanya L. Boone, “Religiosity, Sexual Behaviors, and Sexual Attitudes During Emerging Adulthood,” The Journal of Sex Research 41 (2004): 150-159.

[4] Jill W. Sinha, Ram A. Cnaan, and Richard J. Gelles, “Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Religion: Findings from a National Study,” Journal of Adolescence: 30 (2007): 231–249.

[5] Mark D. Regnerus and Glenn H. Elder, “Religion and Vulnerability Among Low-Risk Adolescents,” Social Science Research: 32 (2003): 633–658.

Non-Romantic Sexual Relationships by Family Structure and Religious Worship

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Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) [1] found that adolescents aged 13 to 19 in intact families that worshipped weekly or more were least likely to have had a non-romantic sexual relationship.[2]

Family Structure: Fewer teens in intact married families have ever had a non-romantic sexual partner than those in other family types (20.9% versus 30.7%, respectively). At the time of the survey, 20.9% of 13- to 19-year olds in intact married families had engaged in non-romantic sexual intercourse, versus 29.2% of teens in married stepfamilies, 34.3% of teens in intact cohabiting families, 25.7% of teens in cohabiting stepfamilies, 29.9% of teens in single divorced families, and 31.9% of teens in always-single families.

Religious Worship: The likelihood that an adolescent has had a non-romantic sexual relationship decreases as the adolescent’s religious involvement increases. Teens who attended religious services weekly or more within the past year were less likely to have had a non-romantic sexual intercourse (21.5%) than those who attended monthly but not weekly (22.5%), less than monthly (27.5%), or never (28.0%).

Family Structure and Religious Worship Combined: Thirteen to nineteen-year-olds in intact worshipping families were least likely to have ever had a non-romantic sexual relationship (18.8%). Teens in intact non-worshipping families (23.6%) and non-intact worshipping families (28.4%) were more likely to have ever had non-romantic sexual intercourse. Teens in non-intact families that did not worship were most likely to have had non-romantic sexual relationships (35.2%).

Related Insights from Other Studies: Research suggests that non-romantic sexual relationships or ‘hook-ups’ “may present greater risks for teens regarding unplanned pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections … [and] may be a potential springboard for longer-term problems associated with relationship patterns that lack commitment.”[3] Wendy Manning and colleagues also found that “teen’s normative beliefs have significant effects on teenage non-romantic sexual activity.”[4]An adolescent’s family structure impacts the stability and durability of the adolescent’s romantic relationships.[5] Heidi Lyons et al. concluded that teens raised by single parents or stepparents were more likely to partake in casual sexual relationships, and were more likely to continue this behavior into adulthood.[6] Examining retrospective data for 10,847 U.S. women, Robert Quinlan found that divorce/separation between birth and age 5 predicted early first sexual intercourse and first pregnancy, and shorter duration of first marriage.[7] Teens from non-intact families were more likely to have sexual intercourse earlier and more frequently than teens in intact families.[8]

This chart looks at the number of children who have had non-romantic sexual relationships at the extremes of four demographic quadrants.

These four quadrants are derived from combining two sets of marital statuses (intact versus non-intact)* and two sets of religious attendance (worship vs. no worship).**

The individuals occupying the four corners (or four extremes) of these quadrants are:

The children from intact families that worship.

The children from intact families that do not worship.

The children from non-intact families that worship.

The children from non-intact families that do not worship.

*The intact married family consists of children who live with their two biological parents who are married. Non-intact includes all other family types.

**Those who worship report attending religious services once a week or more often in the past year. Those who do not worship never attended religious services in the past year.

[1] The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) is a congressionally-mandated longitudinal survey of American adolescents. Add Health drew a random sample of adolescents aged 13-19 in 1995 from junior high and high schools (Wave I) and has followed them in successive waves in 2001 (Wave III) and 2009 (Wave IV).

[2] Respondents were asked: “Not counting romantic relationships, have you ever had a sexual relationship with anyone?”

[3] Wendy D. Manning, Monica A. Longmore, and Peggy C. Giordano, “Adolescents’ involvement in non-romantic sexual activity,” Social Science Research 34 (2005): 385.

[4] Wendy D. Manning, Monica A. Longmore, and Peggy C. Giordano, “Adolescents’ involvement in non-romantic sexual activity,” Social Science Research 34 (2005): 385.

[5] Shannon Cavanagh, “Family Structure History and Adolescent Romance,” Journal of Marriage and Family 70 (2008): 698-714.

[6] Heidi Lyons, Wendy Manning, Peggy Giordano, and Monica Longmore, “Predictors of Heterosexual Casual Sex Among Young Adults,” National Institute of Heath 42(2013) available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3888028/pdf/nihms498099.pdf.

[7] Robert J. Quinlin, “Father Absence, Parental Care, and Female Reproductive Development, “Evolution and Human Behavior 24 (2003): 376-390.

[8] Samuel W. Sturgeon, “The Relationship Between Family Structure and Adolescent Sexual Activity,” (November 2008) available at http://www.familyfacts.org/featuredfinding/ff_01.pdf.

©

Pregnancy would embarrass family

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Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) [1] found that adolescents aged 13 to 19 in intact families that worshipped weekly or more were most likely to strongly agree that a pregnancy would embarrass their family.[2]

Family Structure: Teens in intact married families were most likely to report that getting pregnant (or getting someone pregnant) would embarrass their family (39.4%). They were followed by adolescents in cohabiting stepfamilies (32.3%), married stepfamilies (31.5%), single divorced parent families (28.4%), always-single-parent families (24.5%), and intact cohabiting families (21.3%).

Religious Worship: Teens who frequently worshipped were more likely to strongly agree that getting pregnant (or getting someone pregnant) would embarrass their family. Thirteen- to nineteen-year-olds who attended religious services weekly or more often within the past year were more likely to believe that a pregnancy would embarrass their family (42.0%) than those who attended monthly but not weekly (35.0%), less than monthly (31.6%), or never (26.3%).

Family Structure and Religious Worship Combined: Thirteen- to nineteen-year-olds in intact worshipping families were most likely to strongly agree that getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant would embarrass their family (45.8%). Teens in intact non-worshipping families (29.4%) and non-intact worshipping families (32.7%) were less likely to believe that a pregnancy would embarrass their family. Teens in non-intact families that did not worship were least likely to think a pregnancy would bring embarrassment (22.7%).

Related Insights from Other Studies: Family disapproval andembarrassment is an important sanction to discourage people from violating social norms.[3]Research shows that both family structure and religious attendance form these norms. For instance, Les B. Whitbeck, Ronald L Simons, and Meei-Ying Kao found that sexual permissiveness of divorced parents significantly increases permissive attitudes in their children.[4] On the other hand, family rules and parental supervision of dating are associated with teens not having sexual intercourse, a later sexual debut, and fewer sexual partners.[5]

Likewise, religiosity establishes stricter sexual norms. Amy Burdette and Terrence Hill found that an increase in private religiosity is associated with a 93% reduction in the odds of sexual intercourse among 13-year-olds, and a 97% reduction in the odds of sexual debut for 17-year-olds.[6]

This chart looks at the number of children who strongly agree that getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant would embarrass their family at the extremes of four demographic quadrants.

These four quadrants are derived from combining two sets of marital statuses (intact versus non-intact)* and two sets of religious attendance (worship vs. no worship).**

The individuals occupying the four corners (or four extremes) of these quadrants are:

The children from intact families that worship.

The children from intact families that do not worship.

The children from non-intact families that worship.

The children from non-intact families that do not worship.

*The intact married family consists of children who live with their two biological parents who are married. Non-intact includes all other family types.

**Those who worship report attending religious services once a week or more often in the past year. Those who do not worship never attended religious services in the past year.

[1] The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) is a congressionally-mandated longitudinal survey of American adolescents. Add Health drew a random sample of adolescents aged 13-19 in 1995 from junior high and high schools (Wave I) and has followed them in successive waves in 2001 (Wave III) and 2009 (Wave IV).

[2] Respondents were asked to react to the statement “If you got pregnant [males: if you got someone pregnant], it would be embarrassing for your family.” Their options included: “strongly agree,” “agree,” “neither agree nor disagree,” “disagree,” “strongly disagree,” “refused,” “don’t know,” or “not applicable.”

[3] Alexander Staller and Paolo Petta, “Introducing Emotions into the Computational Study of Social Norms: A First Evaluation,” Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Stimulations 4 (2001).

[4] Les B. Whitbeck, Ronald L Simons, and Meei-Ying Kao, “The Effects of Divorced Mother’s Dating Behaviors and Sexual Attitudes on the Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors of Their Adolescent Children,” Journal of Marriage and Family 56 (1994): 615-621.

[5] Brent C. Miller, “Family influences on adolescent sexual and contraceptive behavior,” The Journal of Sex Research (2002): 22-26.

[6] Amy M. Burdette and Terrence D. Hill, “Religious Involvement and Transitions into Adolescent Sexual Activities,” (2009): 16.

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Adolescents OK with Having a Child out of wedlock

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The percentage of adolescents (aged 13 to 19) who would consider having a child outside of marriage is lowest among those who were raised in intact families that attended religious services weekly or more.[1]

Family Structure:

For teenagers aged 13 to 19, the likelihood of their considering having a child out of wedlock differs significantly from one family structure to another as the following illustrate:

  • Intact Married Family (18.2%): Least likely
  • Married Step Families (20.4%).
  • Cohabiting Stepfamilies (21.3%).
  • Single-Divorced-Parent Families (23.7%).
  • Always Single Families (32.9%).
  • Biologically Intact Cohabiting Families (34.6%): Most likely

Adolescents raised in biologically intact cohabiting families were almost twice as likely as those raised in intact married families to be ok with having a child out-of-wedlock (34.6% versus 18.2%, respectively).

Religious Worship:

For teenagers aged 13 to 19, the likelihood of their considering having a child out of wedlock differs significantly from one level of worship to another as the following illustrate:

  • Attend Religious Service Weekly or More (16.7%): Least likely
  • Attend Religious Service Monthly but Not Weekly (21.5%).
  • Attend Religious Service Less Than Monthly (24%).
  • Never Attend Religious Service (26.5%): Most likely

 

Family Structure and Religious Worship Combined:

For teenagers aged 13 to 19, the likelihood of their considering having a child out of wedlock differs significantly among the different combinations of family intactness and  levels of religious worship as the following illustrate:

  • Intact Worshipping Families (14%): Least likely
  • Non-Intact Worshipping Families (22.3%).
  • Intact Non-Worshipping Families (24.4%).
  • Non-intact non-worshiping families (28.8%): Most likely

Those from non-intact non-worshiping families were twice as likely to consider having a child out-of-wedlock as those raised in an intact worshiping family (28.8% versus 14% respectively).

Related Insights from Other Studies:

MARRI has previously shown that females who grew up in intact families who worshiped weekly were least likely to have an unwed pregnancy (18%), and females from non-intact families were most likely (40%).[2]

Using the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, Jay Teachman of Western Washington University found that women who grew up in intact families were less likely to cohabit before marriage, or to have a premarital birth or conception. Women who were most likely to have premarital conceptions were those who experienced parental divorce or remarriage.[3]

According to data from the Intergenerational Panel Study of Parents and Children, (which looked at white mothers and their children over a 31 year period) the more frequently 18-year-olds attended religious services, the more likely they were to disapprove of premarital sex, cohabitation, abortion, and divorce.[4]

This chart looks at the number of adolescents who would consider having a child outside of marriage, at the extremes of four demographic quadrants.

These four quadrants are derived from combining two sets of marital statuses (intact versus non-intact)* and two sets of religious attendance (worship vs. no worship).**

The individuals occupying the four corners (or four extremes) of these quadrants are:

The children from intact families that worship.

The children from intact families that do not worship.

The children from non-intact families that worship.

The children from non-intact families that do not worship.

*The intact married family consists of children who live with their two biological parents who are married. Non-intact includes all other family types.

**Those who worship report attending religious services once a week or more often in the past year. Those who do not worship never attended religious services in the past year.

[1]The data come from Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Respondents were asked to respond to the question “Since January 1, with how many people in total have you had a sexual relationship?” Their answers choices were to give a specific number or to answer “refused,” “legitimate skip,” “don’t know,” or “not applicable.”

[2] “’Ever had an unwed pregnancy’ by current religious attendance and structure of family origin.” Marriage and Religious Research, Mapping America 101 http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11C38.pdf.

[3] Teachman, Jay D. “The Childhood Living Arrangements of Children and the Characteristics of Their Marriages.” Journal of Family Issues Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 2004) pp. 86-111.

[4] Pearce, L.D. & Thronton, A. “Religious Identity and Family Ideologies in the Transition to Adulthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family Vol. 69 (2007) pp. 1227-1243.