Hayward, R. David, and Neal Krause. 2013. "Patterns of change in religious service attendance across the life course: Evidence from a 34-year longitudinal study." Social Science Research, 42(6): 1480-1489.
Although a number of studies have uncovered evidence of age differences in religious involvement across the life course, there has been a lack of long-term longitudinal data to test the extent to which these differences are due to changes within individuals over time. This study tracks trajectories of change in religious service attendance using data collected longitudinally over the course of up to 34 years, between 1971 and 2005, and in ages ranging from 15 to 102. Piecewise growth curve modeling was used to examine changes in the patterns of age-related change in three distinct developmental periods: the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Attendance showed an average pattern of quadratic decline in adolescence, stability in middle adulthood, and a quadratic pattern of more rapid increase followed by decrease over the course of older adulthood. These results suggest that developmental factors play a role in changing patterns of religious participation across the adult life course, and may account for some of the apparent differences between age groups.