'Losing My Religion': A Dynamic Analysis of Leaving the Church in the Netherlands
In this article, we examine the influence of individual attributes (education, parental education, religious homogamy of parents, religious homogamy of respondent and spouse, frequency of attending religious services, and denomination) and contextual characteristics (cohort and period effects of secularization) on the risk of leaving a faith, using life-event data from the Dutch Family Survey 1992-1993. This approach allows a stronger test of the direction of causality, and enables us to disentangle life-cycle, period, and cohort effects. The results show that education, parental education, and marrying a non-religious spouse significantly increase the risk of becoming unchurched. With regard to the influence of both one's own and one's parents' education, it appears that up to the level of higher secondary education (HAVO) each higher level of education linearly increases the risk of becoming unchurched. Also, the results show a non-linear life-cycle effect: people are more likely to leave their faith when they are in their late teens. Furthermore, our results suggest a period effect: the current level of secularization increases the risk of becoming unchurched.
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