The Association Between Belief in God and Fertility Desires in Slovenia and the Czech Republic

Stephen Cranney

First published online:

| DOI: https://doi.org/10.1363/47e2915
Abstract / Summary

Research on the association between religiosity and fertility—and, particularly, on the effects of secularization on fertility desires and outcomes—has been concerned primarily with mechanisms that are fundamentally institutional and are embedded in formal religious structures. Supplementary explanations focused on noninstitutional dimensions of religiosity have never been tested.


Conventional ordinary least-squares regression was used to test the association between belief in God (i.e., a personal God or some sort of life force) and fertility desires among 2,251 women aged 18–45 in Slovenia and 951 women aged 15–44 in the Czech Republic who participated in the European Family and Fertility Survey in the mid-1990s.


In both samples, substantial proportions of women either were nonbelievers or believed in God but were not institutionally religious. Belief in God was independently associated with fertility desires even in analyses controlling for self-reported religiosity. Women who believed in a personal God wanted approximately 0.2 more children, and those who believed in a life force wanted approximately 0.1 more children, than nonbelievers. Results were similar across several alternative measures of religiosity.


At least some of the connection between religiosity and fertility apparently is attributable to metaphysical beliefs. Future research on the effect of secularization on fertility decline should investigate the potentially distinct effects of different dimensions of religiosity.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2015, 47(2):TK, doi: 10.1363/47e2915

Author's Affiliations

Stephen Cranney is a doctoral candidate, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.