The continuing relevance of family income for religious participation: U.S. white catholic church attendance in the late 20 th century

Philip Schwadel, John D. McCarthy, Hart M. Nelsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


The relevance of family income for religious participation in the United States has been largely ignored in recent decades. Addressing this neglect, we focus our attention primarily upon white Catholics, the poorer of whom we reason have fewer options to participate in the context of an increasingly middleclass Church. Analyzing the 1972-2006 cumulative General Social Survey data, we show that net of all other factors lowincome white Catholics attend church less often than other white Catholics, although social integration mechanisms significantly moderate the effects of income. Additional analyses suggest that the effects of income on church attendance are greatest for the younger white Catholic cohort. In contrast, the role of income in Latino Catholics' attendance is relatively weak. In our conclusion, we attempt to integrate our most puzzling finding - having children in the home does not increase the church attendance of low-income white Catholics - with our main theoretical line of argument concerning the central role of social integration in understanding the impact of income on religious participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1997-2030
Number of pages34
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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