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Gender Role Attitudes and Religiosity Across Generations and Decades: A Research Report on an Ongoing Project
Unformatted Document Text:  15 level of individuals. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Generations collected between 1971 and 1997 we found a negative association between religiosity and feminist gender role attitudes. Over this period, individuals who became more secular in their religious outlook also tended to become more feminist in their views of women’s roles. We showed, moreover, that declining religiosity and increasing feminism within individuals is driven in part by generation effects. Relative to the eldest generation that came of age prior to WWII, the younger generations are increasingly less religious and more feminist. We also showed significant period effects, particularly with respect to gender role attitudes. Controlling for generational effects, the late 1980’s and the 1990’s were more pro-feminist than the early 1970’s. With respect to religiosity, this period was actually slightly more religious than the early ‘70’s, indicting countervailing effects between generation and period with respect to religiosity. These results add to our understanding of social change in the United States but are not without limitations. Of course the unrepresentative nature of the LSG sample may make it problematic in extending inferences from this study to Americans everywhere. The original sample came from a population of three-generation families who belonged to a an HMO in California rather than some larger, more general, population. Moreover, the population from which the sample was drawn has been found to under-represent racial minorities, childless couples, and single people, and over-represent union members (Bengston, Biblarz, and Roberts 2002). Because the sampling design did not include a random sample of some larger population, we cannot make inferences from the sample marginals—say, the percentage who are strongly feminist or not at all religious—to some larger population.

Authors: Mulligan, Ken., Grant, Tobin. and Bryan, Jessica.
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15
level of individuals. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Generations collected
between 1971 and 1997 we found a negative association between religiosity and feminist
gender role attitudes. Over this period, individuals who became more secular in their
religious outlook also tended to become more feminist in their views of women’s roles. We
showed, moreover, that declining religiosity and increasing feminism within individuals is
driven in part by generation effects. Relative to the eldest generation that came of age prior to
WWII, the younger generations are increasingly less religious and more feminist. We also
showed significant period effects, particularly with respect to gender role attitudes.
Controlling for generational effects, the late 1980’s and the 1990’s were more pro-feminist
than the early 1970’s. With respect to religiosity, this period was actually slightly more
religious than the early ‘70’s, indicting countervailing effects between generation and period
with respect to religiosity.
These results add to our understanding of social change in the United States but are
not without limitations. Of course the unrepresentative nature of the LSG sample may make
it problematic in extending inferences from this study to Americans everywhere. The original
sample came from a population of three-generation families who belonged to a an HMO in
California rather than some larger, more general, population. Moreover, the population from
which the sample was drawn has been found to under-represent racial minorities, childless
couples, and single people, and over-represent union members (Bengston, Biblarz, and
Roberts 2002). Because the sampling design did not include a random sample of some larger
population, we cannot make inferences from the sample marginals—say, the percentage who
are strongly feminist or not at all religious—to some larger population.


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