The role of parental religiosity in high school completion


Stokes, C. & E (2008). The role of parental religiosity in high school completion. Sociological Spectrum. vol. 28 (5) pp. 531-555


Scientists have produced a modest literature documenting the associations between individual religious behaviors and educational outcomes. Most scholars hypothesize that religion provides a context of social capital in which students reap educational benefit (or detriment) from the adults in the religious community. Despite the intergenerational influence inherent in the various social capital explanations, few studies have directly examined the role of parental religiosity in the educational outcomes of adolescents. In this study, I begin to address this gap by investigating whether and how parental religiosity is associated with a student's chances of graduating from high school. I seek to answer three questions related to parental religiosity and students’ high school graduation. First, does parental religiosity affect a student's chances of graduating from high school? Second, if parental religiosity is associated with high school graduation, does it operate primarily through the student's own religiosity or is there an independent effect? Third, if parental religiosity is independently associated with a student's high school graduation, what are the mechanisms by which it is associated? Using data from the first and third waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), I find that students whose parents attend religious services more often have greater odds of completing high school, and students who attend religious services with parents are almost 40% more likely to finish high school, net of a number of other religious and sociodemographic factors.



Religion School

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Sociological Spectrum


Stokes, C.

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number






Reference ID