Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pious: We'll keep the virgins and still raise you half a kid

Randall and Razib both recently posted on a study out of UCSF that found, among unmarried people aged 25-45, church attendees are several times more likely to be virgins than non-attendees are:

Men and women who attended church at least once a week were respectively 5 and
3.9 times more likely to be virgins than those who attended church less often.
Randall sees this as suggesting that the propensity to attend church is being selected against. That butts up against the fact that church attendance is a predictor of higher rather than of lower fertility. From the turn of the century to today, the mean number of children among those aged 25-45, by frequency of church attendance (N = 6,207):

Less than once a year1.34
Several times a year1.56
2-3 times a month1.84
Nearly every week1.94
More than once a week1.90

Obviously unmarried virgins are not buoying the fecundity of the religiously active, and unmarried churchgoers are more likely to be virgins than unmarried pre-game football votaries are. Yet this doesn't translate into lower average fertility among those who sit in the pews than among those who do not, because bachelors and bachelorettes comprise a larger percentage of the pagan population than they do the pious. The following table shows the percentage of those aged 25-45 who are married, by frequency of church attendance:

Less than once a year49.3%
Several times a year57.7%
2-3 times a month60.7%
Nearly every week64.6%
More than once a week74.0%

Most non-attenders are unmarried, while those free of marital vows constitute only one in four regular worshippers. Marrital status is a strong predictor of fertility. Continuing with the same age cohort (25-45) over the same period of time (2000-2008), unmarried people average a paltry 1.15 children compared to 1.91 for married folks.

It is these married folks who do the procreating, and, relative to the unmarried, they're a lot more likely to reserve Sunday mornings for their transcedent God than they are to reserve Saturday nights for their transgressive gods. The relatively high incidence of virginity among unmarried weekly churchgoers aged 25-45 does weigh down the total fertility of the pious, but the demographic is a featherweight--it constitutes just 9.5% of all weekly attendees aged 18 and older and only 2.4% of the total adult population. The 68% of regular churchgoers who are married (and 75% among those aged 25-45*) more than make up for the barrenness of their virgin co-congregates.

The GSS confirms that unmarried weekly attendees are more likely to be virgins than those who attend less frequently are. However, even among the unmarried, churchgoers outdo those who steer clear of houses of worship. Though unmarried people inside a church are more likely to be innocent than those outside its walls, the chaste constitute a minority of the unmarried population in both cases. And those unmarried churchgoers who do get busy pick up the baby-making slack of those who abstain--and then some. Among the unmarried aged 25-45, the average number of children of those who attend church on at least a weekly basis is 1.29. For those attending less frequently than that, it is 1.12.

Parenthetically, it shouldn't be surprising that among the unmarried, regular church attendees are more than four times as likely to be virgins than is the rest of the unmarried population. In remaining chaste, they're merely adhering to the tenets of their religions, just as their fellow married worshippers are in being fruitful and multiplying. Also, keep in mind that those who are holding out for a marriage they will eventually avail themselves of are faring better in the Darwinian struggle than are those who've shown a coven of women the sheets they sleep on. The most fecund people are those who have only shared themselves with one other person.

No children out of wedlock, lots of children once ensconsced in it. Sounds like an ameliorative prescription for a sick civilization to me. I'm encouraged to know people who strive to realize this ideal are outbreeding those who have no use for it.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2008), MARITAL(1)(2-5), ATTEND(0-6)(7-8), SEXFREQ, CHILDS, AGE(18-89)(25-45)

* Due to the death of a spouse, the likelihood of being married is lower among all adults than among those aged 25-45. Of all adults regularly attending church, 8% are widowed. Together with those who are married, this constitutes 76% of the total weekly church-attending population.


silly girl said...

Virginity is not a cause for ridicule among church goers. Some people's personalities dispose them more easily to chastity. No one at church will tease you or try to "fix" you if you are a virgin. This is where I kind of have to slam the "diversity" folk with the old, Yeah diversity is great until someone does something different. Seems that virgins should be entitled to the same slack people give gays. Hey, they are not hurting anyone else. It's a free country supposedly. Yeah, some probably have a "hang-up" but for others there may be an organic reason for the low libido.

FeministX said...

"No children out of wedlock, lots of children once ensconsced in it. Sounds like an ameliorative prescription for a sick civilization to me."

Religion fixes some problems if we just ignore that itty bitty problem about religion being based on anti-scientific bronze aged fairy tales.

David said...

Interesting post. Never really thought about the issue in the way you discuss it.

as said...

"Virginity is not a cause for ridicule among church goers."

Even among non-church goers, virginity is fine, so long as you look good, are young, and are not a loser. Then, people will respect you for being principled.

silly girl said...

"Even among non-church goers, virginity is fine, so long as you look good, are young, and are not a loser. Then, people will respect you for being principled."

Nice to know that young attractive winners can still get a little respect for their principles. I sure respect myself for cutting the young attractive winners some slack.

silly girl said...

"Religion fixes some problems if we just ignore that itty bitty problem about religion being based on anti-scientific bronze aged fairy tales."

I don't mean this sarcastic, or demeaning, but how much utility are reason and logic to someone of say 80 IQ? I don't think that all or most church goers are that dumb, but there seems to be some threshold below which faith may have more actual utility for some individuals and society. I mean I feel safer if the less intellectual are indoctrinated to believe that working hard and being honest etc. make them good people and give them a sense of pride and dignity that they might not otherwise have. Whereas some atheist physics professor doesn't scare me at all.

The other odd thing is that human societies evolved with religion, it makes you wonder if there is some aspect of the human mind that needs to believe something, even if it is not something supernatural.

Jokah Macpherson said...

The guys at my church pick-up basketball games are on pace to surpass the Great Khan in fecundity in a few hundred years - no thanks to me, though. I'm part of the 13.9%.

I think it's interesting that feminism focuses on the objectification of female virginity, yet (at least in the modern world) adult virginity is more common among males without having much corresponding value attached to it.

I had a similar experience to Randall Parker last weekend where a girl was complaining to me that all the guys she dated were virginal pussies, although she did not appear to have any suspicions regarding me.

Audacious Epigone said...


Continuing on silly girl's point, not everyone is two SDs to the right of the white mean. Libertine 'amorality' works progressively better as the intelligence of the population increases. Conversely, those of modest intelligence are not going to become Socratic free-thinkers just because the yoke of their religious beliefs are removed from them. As far as moral worldviews are concerned, we can do a lot worse than evangelical Christianity.


Heh, I assume you're being clever--everything is more acceptable if you're youthful, good-looking, and generally have your stuff together.


You're 26, right? So you're hardly finished yet! Roissy doesn't have any kids, either, and he's older than you are.

Re: the girl, if it seemed out of the ordinary/unexpected for her to say something liek that to you, she was probably ovulating. Seriously.

as said...

silly girl and epigone:

Something that's really kind of sad is that you don't really get any credit for being virtuous unless you are very good-looking and have the option of not being virtuous. If you are plain looking and virtuous, people just tend to see you as dull and boring. I definitely don't think this is a good thing, and didn't mean to imply as much.