Culture makes a difference in behaviour. This is clearly evidenced by the number of births to unmarried women in the US. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics births to unmarried mothers in the U.S. have been consistent since 2011 at 41% of births. In 1984, births to unmarried U.S. born women were 21% while they were 19% for foreign born women, a small 2% difference. Today however, there are great disparities among different cultures.
According to the National Vital Statistics Report 2018, for African-Americans the percentage of births to unmarried mothers is 69%, American Indians 68%, Hispanic 52%, Pacific Islanders 50%, Caucasians 28%, and Asians 12%.
Disparities also occur among immigrants to the U.S., with Hispanics births to unmarried mothers at 49%, Blacks 34%, Caucasians 13% and Asians 11% (Centre for Immigration Studies 2017).
Culture obviously makes a difference.
According to a study, dated September 21, 2020, by the Canadian non-partisan think tank, Cardus, faith-based organizations contribute more than $30 billion annually to the economy. Religion, in fact, is the country’s ninth-largest enterprise and comprises the world’s 72nd-largest economy. Religion’s contributions to the economy include social benefits, reduced crime rates, and assistance to the spiritual, physical, emotional, and economic needs of members of the community. As well, religion provides and promotes education and civic engagement by way of volunteerism.
In effect, religion develops and activates pro-social attitudes and behaviours, such as high levels of generosity and volunteerism that benefit the community – both religious and secular. Religious social services reduce demands on the state for resources, such as health care, and improve the quality of life of individuals. Religion contributes to social capital by assisting the homeless, diminishing malnutrition, by providing food banks and hot meals, and also caring for the mentally and physically ill.
Protestant Churches Losing Members
Unfortunately, the powerful Protestant mainline churches in Canada are hemorrhaging members. For example, in the 1950s and 60s the membership of the United Church of Canada was approximately two million. In January 2019, it has been reduced to 388,363 members. Similarly, the Anglican Church’s membership was approximately 1.3 million in the 1950s but, in 2017, has been reduced to 359,030 members.
The Protestant denominations made up 25% of the population, but in 2017 made up only 14%. The membership in the Catholic Church in Canada in 2011 was approximately 13 million but in 2021 is approximately 11 million. Despite the drop in membership immigration seems to keep the Catholic Church and schools still populated.
Increase in Membership of Orthodox Jews
The Jewish faith among the Reform and Conservative branches, has experienced a loss of men and women, which is creating enormous difficulties for the faith. This has been accelerated by the low fertility rate among Jewish women, who average 1.5 children per woman, whereas 2.1 is the replacement rate. This trend suggests that the Jewish community, whose current membership in Canada is 500,000, will shrink substantially in future generations.
However, the birth rate for Orthodox Jewish women is 3.3 children per woman. Also, children raised in the Orthodox Jewish faith generally do retain their faith as they are more likely to attend synagogue and faithfully identify with their religion, which provides meaning and fulfilment in their larger families.
Religion Protects Against Deaths from Despair
Our stressful age has led to a pattern of drug overdose deaths, suicides and alcoholic liver disease – medical conditions that increase when people believe their long-term social and economic prospects are beyond hope. They can enter into deaths from despair.
However, according to a research paper released in January 2023, by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a prominent think tank headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, there is empirical evidence that suggests the reason for this deadly trend is the decline in religious practices. The researchers used statistics from US states where church attendance decreased when Sunday observance laws were repealed in order to allow commerce on Sundays. The researchers found that this led to reduced attendance at religious services and resulted in increased numbers of deaths of despair. This did not occur in those states with more restrictive Sunday commerce laws, where church attendance was more frequent.
According to reports, “religiosity” (as the social scientists call it) protects people against drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and suicide. Simply put, these statistics indicate that states with a high level of “religiosity” have experienced less mortality due to alcohol, suicide, and drug induced deaths, and less deaths from despair. This may be due to the fact that regular church attendance draws people to a faith and a community that gives them supportive fellowship and enhances meaning in their lives. This promotes hope and an assurance that someone cares for them.