Religion, Marriage Markets, and Assortative Mating in the United States

David McClendon, University of Texas at Austin

As the share of marriages that are interfaith continues to grow, religion is thought to be less important for sorting partners. However, prior studies on religious assortative mating rely on national samples of prevailing marriages, which miss how local marriage markets shape partner selection and its connection to marriage timing. I examine the impact of local religious concentration on religious assortative mating and how it varies by religious tradition and age. I estimate discrete-time competing-risk models of religious assortative mating, using individual level data from the NLSY 1997 and local characteristics from census data and other sources. Results show that local religious concentration is associated with higher odds of religious homogamy relative to non-marriage and heterogamy. While the association varies across religious traditions, it does not vary with age. The findings suggest that religion remains relevant in today’s marriage market and have implications for theories of assortative mating.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 88: Attitudes and Expectations in Family Formation