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


New research shows movement toward a more integrated approach.  For example, a comprehensive qualitative study of fathers (Nelson, Edin, & Lein, forthcoming) is using an integrated approach that examines paternal involvement while simultaneously examining relevant contextual factors, including aspects of a fathers relationship with the co-parenting mother. Examining the religious and spiritual dimensions of these parenting relationships and participation in church activities and social networks would be a fruitful avenue of research for new studies.

Table 3-4.
Lessons from the Fragile Families Studies
Study/Data Source Relevant Findings
Unmarried but not absent: Fathers' involvement with children after a nonmarital birth (Carlson et al., 2005)
  • The study examines five groups of variables as predictors of paternal involvement: parents relationship status and quality, fathers human capital, fathers cultural and attitudinal characteristics (including religiosity), fathers health and sociodemographic characteristics, and child characteristics.
  • The study finds no significant relationship between religiosity and paternal involvement.
Family structure effects on maternal and paternal parenting in low-income families (Gibson-Davis, 2008)
  • The study finds no effect of religiosity on parenting outcomes.
Unmarried, nonresident fathers' involvement with their infants: A risk and resilience perspective (Fagan & Palkovitz, 2007)
  • The study examines the extent to which predictors of father involvement are influenced by mother-father relationship status and various risk and resilience variables.
  • Resilience (religiosity) does not moderate relationship between relationship status and involvement, or between risk and involvement.
Strengthening unmarried families: Could enhancing couple relationships also improve parenting? (Carlson & McLanahan, 2006)
  • This study examines the association between relationship quality and parenting in low-income couples (religiosity as mediating factor).
  • The study finds a significant (but small) positive effect of religiosity on parental engagement for mothers and fathers.
Religious participation, religious affiliation, and engagement with children among fathers experiencing the birth of a new child (Petts, 2007)
  • Participation has significant positive effect on paternal engagement, especially for first-time fathers.
  • Religion has an independent effect even controlling for marital status, resident status, relationship transition, pro-fathering attitudes, and first-time fatherhood.

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