Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Sociology of Religion (2010) 71: 12-24. DOI:10.1093/socrel/srq005.


Copyright 2010, Oxford University Press. Used by permission. Advance access publication was made available February 18, 2010.


I use repeated, cross-sectional data from 1972 to 2006 to analyze age, period, and cohort effects on Americans’ frequency of religious service attendance with cross-classified, random-effects models. The results show that the frequency of religious service attendance is relatively stable, with a modest period-based decline in the 1990s and little overall cohort effect. Although aggregate rates of attendance are stable, there are large changes across cohorts and periods in differences in attendance between men and women, southerners and non-southerners, and Catholics and mainline Protestants. These results serve as a reminder that aggregate trends can mask substantial changes among specific groups, and that factors that strongly influence religious participation at one period or among one birth cohort may not be the same factors that affect participation at another time or among another cohort.

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