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Understanding Religious Disaffiliation: Parental Values and Religious Transmission over Two Generations of Dutch Parents

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Abstract Religious disaffiliation, a major phenomenon in the Netherlands, is predominantly a generational matter. Each successive birth cohort is less involved in institutional religion than the previous one. Parents do not seem to pass on a lasting religious commitment to their offspring, which might indicate an overall shift in parental values from conformity to autonomy. In this article we use panel data to test the assumption and to compare parenting goals and their effects on the offspring’s church attendance over two generations of parents. Our research question is: To what extent is the intergenerational transmission of religious commitment affected by a change in parental values from an emphasis on conformity to an emphasis on autonomy? Results show that while there is indeed a shift in parental values from conformity to autonomy, this barely affects the offspring’s church attendance — which is determined, rather, by the parents’ church attendance, irrespective of the goals they pursue.

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