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New Research Helps Explain Why Religious Women Have More Kids

Higher marriage rates and fewer worries about life among factors possibly raising fertility


July 19, 2023

OTTAWA, ON – New research has uncovered several possible reasons why being more religious is often associated with higher fertility. In his new report, Religion and Fertility in Canada, demographer and Cardus Senior Fellow Lyman Stone compared the childbearing decisions of Canadian women who attend religious services at least monthly to those who infrequently or never attend services.

Among Canadian women aged 35 to 39, those who attend religious services at least monthly average 2.3 kids per woman. In the same age group, Canadian women who attend less frequently or never average 1.5 children per woman.

The report also finds Canadian women who regularly attend religious services are distinct from never-attending women in several ways:

  1. They marry earlier and spend more of their 20s and 30s, when conception is easiest, in marriage.
  2. They often benefit from more social support from their families and communities.
  3. They worry far less about housing, finances, childcare, unsupportive partners, or other issues that reduce the desire for children.
  4. They tend to be more open to having both biological and non-biological (adoptive, foster, or step) children.

Are employment or financial factors at play?

“Contrary to popular narratives, our survey results show no evidence of meaningful differences in women’s employment across different religious groups,” says Stone. “This suggests that higher fertility is not due to a lack of employment among religious women.”

Taken together, the report’s findings suggest that falling Canadian fertility may be closely related to dwindling religious participation.

Religion and Fertility in Canada is freely available on the Cardus website.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

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