Generational Variation in Young Adults’ Attitudes toward Legal Abortion: Contextualizing the Role of Religion
Recent sociological research has addressed a wide range of attitudinal, behavioral, and sociodemographic factors that influence attitudes toward legal abortion. Young adulthood is an important life stage for the development of attitudes and behaviors that are likely to influence individuals over time. Several life course theorists in psychology, social psychology, and sociology hold views consistent with this idea. We use a cohort comparison to evaluate the extent to which attitudes among young adults vary by cohort/historical epoch. We examine the influence of religious preference and participation on support for legal abortion across three birth cohorts controlling for a range of sociodemographic variables. Using data from the General Social Survey, we compare abortion attitudes and religious predictors of these attitudes across three generational cohorts—Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Our findings indicate (1) differences between cohorts, (2) variation in the influence of religion on abortion attitudes among young adults socialized in different time periods, and (3) consistency and inconsistency in relation to sociodemographic effects across cohorts. These findings suggest that part of the continuity of abortion debates in U.S. society reflects changes whereby young adults became less supportive of legal abortion after the Baby Boomer cohort.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Barringer, M. N., Sumerau, J. E., & Gay, D. A. (2020). Generational Variation in Young Adults’ Attitudes toward Legal Abortion: Contextualizing the Role of Religion. Social Currents, 7(3), 279–296. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329496520905020