Patterns of Childlessness among Catholic and Non‐Catholic Women in the U.S.: A Log‐Linear Analysis* Academic Article uri icon


  • The principal objective of this paper is to conduct a log‐linear analysis of patterns of childlessness among Catholic and non‐Catholic women in the United States. We address this issue by examining white women between the ages of thirty‐five and forty‐four, ascertaining whether they are voluntarily, involuntarily, or temporarily childless or childed. Given the long‐standing emphasis of the Catholic Church regarding the importance of children in marriage and the family, an emphasis which was not reversed during the Second Vatican Council, we suggest that even after controlling for religious activity and educational attainment, Catholic women should be less disposed than non‐Catholic women to choose voluntarily to have no children. We review various aspects of Church doctrine leading to such an hypothesis. Our results do not suggest an “end” to Catholic‐non‐Catholic differentials in childlessness. Catholic women between the ages of thirty‐five and forty‐four in 1976 were very far apart from non‐Catholic women with respect to the voluntary decision to have no children. And they are also very different from non‐Catholic women regarding patterns of involuntary childlessness. These differential patterns of voluntary and involuntary childlessness are discussed and analyzed. Copyright © 1986, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

author list (cited authors)

  • Poston, D. L., & Kramer, K. B.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Poston, Dudley L||Kramer, Kathryn B

publication date

  • October 1986