Trajectories of Religious Participation from Adolescence to Young Adulthood

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Petts, Richard J.
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This study takes a life course approach to examine trajectories of religious participation from early adolescence through young adulthood and how family and religious characteristics influence whether and when youth experience religious changes. By employing a group-based method of trajectory analysis, this study uncovers three trajectories of religious stability (non-attendance, occasional attendance, and frequent attendance) and three trajectories of religious change (early, late, and gradual declining attendance). Results also suggest that residing with two biological parents and residing in a religious family increase the likelihood that youth attend religious services throughout adolescence. In addition, results indicate that religious disaffiliation is associated with a decline in religious participation for all youth, but marriage, cohabitation, and religious conversion are associated with a change in religious participation only among youth following a trajectory of high or moderate religious involvement. Overall, this study identifies distinct patterns of religious participation among adolescents, provides some insight into how these pathways are continually shaped by family and religious characteristics, and suggests that the influence of life events on religious participation is dependent on the trajectory of religious involvement that youth experience.