Monday, March 22, 2010

Protestant denominations since 1910

Here's another graph using the DENOM16 variable from the General Social Survey. That question asked respondents which religious tradition they were raised in, and by calculating their age, we can generate an estimate of the religious affiliation of 16-year-olds since 1910. (For more details).

As you can see, several of the Mainline Protestant denominations have dropped steadily over the last 100 years. At the start of last century, a full 20% of American youth were raised as Methodists. Now it's about 3%. Protestants and Presbyterians have likewise dropped. Episcopalians, in contrast, have dropped a bit, but there weren't that many to begin with.

Baptists, however, have kept their numbers at 19% to 24% the whole time, though they have lost some of the gains they made in the mid 20th century.


Michael Kruse said...

I wonder if this result isn't a function socioeconomic status and fertility. Fertility rates drop as socioeconomic status rises.

Presbyterians and Episcopalians stared out much higher in status in 1910 than did the others. They were already having fewer children so little change in socioeconomic status meant little change in fertility.

Methodist socioeconomic status rose considerably over the past century and fertility fell.

Baptists have not risen in socioeconomic status, at least in the way the other denominations have, and fertility rates remain high.

Brad Wright said...

Yes, I bet that's part of it, though it seems like there's too much change for that to explain everything.

Michael Kruse said...

I agree. I just suspect it is probably a significant contributing factor.