Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. New Research


Three studies that are currently underway will begin to fill some of the research gaps on the effect of religion and religiosity on marriage outcomes in low-income families (see Table 2-4). One identified gap is the need to delineate differences between a couples secular and religious joint marriage activities. The Program for Strong African American Families (PROSAAM) intervention study targeting African American couples will provide insights about the differences between the effects of secular marriage programs and secular plus prayer programs, compared with a control group.

Two other studies will help broaden the measures of a couples religiosity as well as the breadth of relationship outcome measures studied. Both of these studies will use evidence to identify potential differences in the effect of religiosity by race and ethnicity on marriage and relationships within the low-income population.

Table 2-4.
New Research Studies
Study Research Focus
Program Intervention
Evaluation of Program for Strong African American Families (ProSAAM)
Principal Investigator (PI): Steven Beach
5-year intervention study targeting 500 African American couples in Atlanta metropolitan area; 200 couples will participate in secular marriage education (PREP),1 200 in PREP plus intercessory prayer, and 100 in control group. This project does not specifically target low-income couples, but has the potential to examine income differences.
Longitudinal Panel Data Collection
Development and Maintenance of Low-Income Newlywed Marriages
PI: Benjamin Karney
Marriage licenses will be used to sample 513 Black, White, and Hispanic first-married newlywed couples living in low-income neighborhoods. Includes four interviews over the first 3 years of marriage. Focuses on a variety of indicators, including religiosity and spirituality.
Secondary Data Analysis
Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love & Marriage among African Americans and Latinos
PI: W. Bradford Wilcox
The study consists of secondary data analysis of national data sets (GSS, FFCW, NSFG, NSFRL)1 that will focus on race and ethnic differences in the effects of religion on marriage attitudes, union transitions, and relationship quality in unmarried and married couples. This project includes at least one data set that focuses on a lower-income sample (FFCW).
  1. PREP = Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program
  2. GSS = General Social Survey; FFCW = Fragile Families and Child Well-Being; NSFG = National Survey of Family Growth; NSFRL = National Survey Family Religious Life

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