Calvinists families becoming smaller

08/01/2001 10:00

Dutch women born in the late forties and fifties belonging to orthodox Calvinist denominations had nearly three children on average. Women belonging to other Protestant denominations had just over two children and Roman Catholic and non-religious women just under two.

Half of orthodox Calvinist women had three or more children. One in five Roman Catholic women opted for such a large family, while among non-religious women the number of large families is slightly smaller.

Number of children, by religious denomination (women born in the period 1945-1959)
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Today, women of childbearing ages in all denominations expect to have fewer children than their mothers. The largest fall was observed among women with a Calvinist background, although orthodox Calvinist women still expect to have the most children (2.14 on average). Dutch Reformed and GKN Calvinist women born between 1965 and 1974 expect to have 1.9 children on average.

Expected number of children, by religious denomination of the woman
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Frequent churchgoers have more children

Women of the various post-war generations who go to church frequently expect to have more children than women who do not, although the predictions of women who go to church weekly have decreased. The expectations of the various generations of women who attend church less regularly remain virtually unchanged.

Expected number of children by church-going women
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The conclusion is that the number of large families is likely to diminish, both because the group of 'frequent' churchgoers is shrinking, and because their behaviour has changed.

Wijnand Advokaat and Arie de Graaf