The intergenerational transmission of churchgoing in England and Australia

David Voas*, Ingrid Storm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The family is an important setting for the transmission of values and traditions, and parents have a significant influence on the religious involvement of their children. The family typically provides an initial religious identity and introduces children to religious beliefs, practices and a network of adherents. For both scholars and practitioners, the question of how religion does or does not come to be passed on in families is of crucial importance. In this study we use data from the 2001 International Congregational Life Survey to examine church attendance across three generations in England and Australia. In both England and Australia there is a strong tendency for couples to attend church together; they are making joint decisions and, when churchgoing is favored, encouraging each other in religious practice. The impact of two churchgoing parents on their children is considerably stronger than that of one alone. Our analysis shows that not only parental but also grandparental religious activity has a significant effect. While much of their influence simply results from the upbringing they gave their own children, a substantial proportion of it seems likely to be a direct, unmediated effect on grandchildren.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-395
Number of pages19
JournalReview of Religious Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Church attendance
  • Grandparents
  • Religiosity
  • Socialization
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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