SUNDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Large numbers of
less-educated white Americans are abandoning religion, a new study
Since the 1970s, religious service attendance has declined among
all white Americans, but the rate of decline among those without
college degrees has been more than twice that of college graduates,
according to the researchers.
The study, which was to be presented Sunday at the annual
meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Las
Vegas, focused on whites because religiosity among blacks and
Hispanics is less affected by education and income, the researchers
They analyzed data from the General Social Survey and the
National Survey of Family Growth to assess monthly religious
service attendance among adults aged 25 to 44 in the 1970s and in
the past decade.
The researchers found that 38 percent of the least-educated
whites (who did not graduate high school) attended religious
services in the 1970s, compared with 50 percent of moderately
educated whites (who had a high school diploma but did not graduate
from a four-year college) and 51 percent of educated whites (who at
a minimum graduated from a four-year college).
In the past decade, 23 percent of the least-educated whites
attended religious services monthly or more often, compared with 37
percent of moderately educated whites and 46 percent of
college-educated whites, the researchers said.
"Our study suggests that the less-educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market," lead researcher W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, said in an ASA news release.
In the current economy, whites with the lowest levels of
education are less likely to have stable jobs, to earn decent
incomes, to be married with children, or to hold family-centered
views. Therefore, it makes sense that they're not attracted to
religious institutions that continue to promote conventional
societal norms, Wilcox said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians discusses
spirituality and health.