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Research Analysis Lib Data

Research Analysis Lib Data - The Impact of Religious...

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Sociological Inquiry , Vol. 74, No. 3, August 2004, 338–354 © 2004 Alpha Kappa Delta The Impact of Religious Homogeneity on the Rate of Divorce in the United States * Larry C. Mullins, Auburn University Montgomery Kimberly P. Brackett, Auburn University Montgomery Donald W. Bogie, Auburn University Montgomery Daniel Pruett, Auburn University Montgomery This study extends the understanding of the relationship between religious hom- ogeneity, that is, the extent to which formal religious groups are concentrated at the county level, and the rate of persons currently divorced in those counties. Linking the research question to Durkheimian precepts of religion as an integrative force in social life, the essential question is, “At the county level, does the rate of currently divorced vary inversely with more concentrated affiliation with formal religious organizations?” We investigate this relationship using data from the 1990 U.S. Census and from the Glenmary Research Center that encompasses 621 counties in the U.S., that is, a 20 percent random sample of counties from each state. As hypothesized, the divorced rate is inversely related to religious homogeneity, even after controlling for a series of factors that have been shown to be correlated with divorce in other studies. Introduction There has been considerable interest in the relationship between religion and marriage in the social science literature. Scores of articles have appeared over the last several decades that have examined various facets of this theme and related topics (e.g., D’Antonio and Aldous 1983; Thomas 1988; Wittberg 1999). As we enter the 21st century, debates still rage about the survival of the traditional American family and the form that it will likely take. Because the United States has one of the highest divorce rates of any industrialized country in the world, social scientists have continued their search to more fully understand the factors that influence marital failure and success. More than 40 years ago, family sociologists Burgess, Locke, and Thomas (1963:294) defined the “adjusted,” and therefore “successful,” marriage as: . . . a union where the attitudes and acts of husband and wife are in agreement on the chief issues of marriage, such as handling finances and dealing with in-laws; where they have come to an adjustment upon interests, objectives, and values; where they are in harmony on demonstrations of affection and the sharing of confidences; and where they have few or no complaints about their marriage. Clearly, there are many factors that help to explain why and under what circumstances marriages vary in levels of satisfaction and success. While Burgess, Locke, and Thomas emphasize the dynamics of the interpersonal relationship
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THE IMPACT OF RELIGIOUS HOMOGENEITY 339 between marriage partners, the larger social context within which the marriage unfolds represents another important dimension of marital adjustment.
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