Abstract

A growing body of research documents the persistent relevance of religiosity for partnership and reproductive behaviour in Europe. This study expands the current knowledge by analysing whole union and fertility trajectories—i.e. entering cohabitation versus direct marriage, non-marital childbearing, number of children, divorce—instead of focusing on single events as previous research did. It is based on data from the first wave of the Austrian Generations and Gender Survey (2008–2009) and includes 1,249 women and men aged 40–45 years. Using sequence analysis, respondents are first clustered around several template family life paths. Afterwards, the role of religiosity in following one rather than another path is ascertained with the help of multinomial logit regression. Four aspects—affiliation, mass attendance, self-assessed religiosity, and religious socialization—are considered. Compared to their less religious peers, religious people are more likely to choose direct marriage rather than prior cohabitation. Yet they prefer the latter option over more ‘adverse’ life paths involving non-marital childbearing, sequential cohabitation, and divorce. Permanent singlehood without children is equally widespread among both groups. Differences in religiosity play a minor role in explaining why people have two or three children, once they have decided to enter premarital cohabitation or to marry directly.

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