Family as Moral Community: Does the Effect of Youth Religiosity on Delinquency Depend on the Religiosity of Parents?

Chris Bader, Baylor University
Scott A. Desmond, University of Washington

This study examines the "moral communities" hypothesis, which suggests that an individual's religious commitment will only inhibit delinquent behavior if that individual lives in an area with a strong religious community. In contrast, if an individual lives in an area in which religion does not permeate the culture, his/her religious commitment will not have a significant impact on delinquency. Previous research on the moral communities hypothesis has examined the religiosity of individuals within the context of macro-level units, such as entire communities and within the contex of schools. This paper tests the moral communities hypothesis in a heretofore unexamined proximal context-the family. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this study brings the moral communities hypothesis to a micro-level by examining whether the effect of a youth's religious commitment on delinquency depends upon the religious commitment of his/her parents.

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Updated 05/20/2006