Research Blog #6

“Then comes marriage? Religion, race, and marriage in Urban America”

In his article for Social Science Research, Wilcox focuses on the role that religion plays in encouraging marriage on new parents in America. While some urban mothers have children outside of marriage, many will eventually go on to marry in the future. This article assesses the factor of religious culture and its influence on that outcome. To calculate this, Wilcox uses data from the past study, Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing. Surprisingly enough, he finds that measurable relationship-related behaviors, like affection or domestic abuse, cannot be empirically connected to marriage likelihood. Instead, religious culture and church support have an influential effect on this outcome.

“Living and loving “decent”: Religion and relationship quality among urban parents”

Wilcox and Wolfinger explore the reasons that religious participation has such a positive effect on marital satisfaction in urban America. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, they analyze relationship-related and relationship-specific behaviors and their correlation with religious habits. In their findings, they account church attendance and religious beliefs for high levels of relationship factors like temperance and affection. Basically, mutual church attendance seems to encourage supportive and nonviolent relationship behaviors.

“The Science of Cohabitation: A Step Toward Marriage, Not a Rebellion”

In Lauren Fox’s article for The Atlantic, she examines the effect that living together before marriage has on divorce rates. Contrary to the popular idea that premarital cohabitation leads to divorce, she claims that age is actually a much larger factor. In fact, those who chose to live together or get married at the age of 18 resulted in a 60 percent chance of divorce. Because of this, she cites that 23 years old is the ideal age for divorce rates to significantly drop off.


I’m finding lots of connections between these sources. In fact, I found the second source from a list of related articles from the first library link. I was also very surprised to find the author of my first two sources being cited in the third article, an unrelated piece I found from After reading conflicting evidence from different studies, I’m more interested in how these factors might affect divorce rates differently. In the research process, I’ve definitely found that you can find data to support whatever side you want to argue for. My guiding question has shifted from “Why is divorce so common” to “How does technology affect divorce rates” to “How does religion affect marriage” and back to the broader sense of what causes divorce.


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