Journal Article

Education, Religiosity and Moral Attitudes: Explaining Cross-National Effect Differences

Peer Scheepers, Manfred Te Grotenhuis and Frans Van Der Slik

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 63, issue 2, pages 157-176
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Education, Religiosity and Moral Attitudes: Explaining Cross-National Effect Differences

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The aim of the present study is to answer three research questions on moral attitudes (i.e., attitudes concerning abortion, premarital and extramarital relations, and homosexual relations). Which parental and individual characteristics affect moral attitudes? Do the effects of parental and individual characteristics vary across countries? And, if so, can these effect differences on moral issues be explained by national characteristics? To answer these questions, we use the 1991 ISSP database containing relevant data of 16,604 inhabitants of 15 countries. Hypotheses are tested using multi-level analyses. We find that parental and individual religiosity, as well as individual educational attainment, have strong effects on moral attitudes. However, we observe considerable effect differences across countries, which is a rather new finding. Effects of individual religiosity on moral attitudes appear to be stronger in more religious countries and weaker in more secularized countries. Effects of individual education are stronger in more religiously heterogeneous countries and weaker in more religiously homogeneous countries. Finally, effects of individual education on moral attitudes are weaker in short-standing democracies than in long-standing ones.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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