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Bartkowski, John P., Xiaohe Xu, and Martin Levin. 2008. "Religion and child development: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study." Social Science Research, 37(1): 18-36.
Although interest in religion among young people has increased markedly, research examining the impact of religion on child development has been sorely lacking. This study is the first of its kind to use nationally representative data to explore the influence of religion on several different dimensions of psychological development and social adjustment in early childhood. Data from the Spring 2000 wave of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K) are analyzed to explore how child development is shaped by individual parents' religiosity, the religious homogamy of couples, and the family's religious environment. Significant religious effects are observed across a range of child development domains and are manifested for both parents' ratings and teachers' ratings of youngsters. Parental, couple, and familial religion are linked with youngsters' pro-social behavior. However, religion can undermine child development when it is a source of conflict among families. The investigation concludes with a specification of implications and directions for future research.