Religious involvement among rural youth: An ecological and life-course perspective

Valarie King, Glen H. Elder, Les B. Whitbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Developmental expressions of religion in the lives of youth extend from formal church attendance and ritual involvement to religious beliefs and knowledge, self-identity, and participation in youth groups. Little is known about developmental change in these activities and definitions among youth, especially in rural America, although they represent social capital for human development. Using multiple dimensions of religious development (church attendance, involvement in church activities, felt religiosity, religious identity), this panel study (7th-10th grades) investigated their developmental pathways over a 4-year period, giving particular attention to changing influences among farm and nonfarm rural youth. Data come from 365 White, two-parent families in the Iowa Youth and Families Project. Adolescents who have grown up on a farm have stronger ties to religious institutions than nonfarm youth, and they express stronger commitments to religious values. The correlates of religious change and continuity indicate that social identities and qualities of the parent-child relationship are important influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-456
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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