South Asian Speaker Series Presents: Mary Shenk

South Asian Speaker Series Presents: Mary Shenk

When: Jan 25, 2024, from 3:30 - 5:00 PM
Where: Weaver 102

Mary Shenk (Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University)

Demographic research on South Asia often finds that Muslims have higher fertility (family size) than Hindus, a relationship generally ascribed to either ideological or socioeconomic differences between these communities. Yet literature from the study of religion suggests that belief systems may be less important than religiosity, the intensity and type of religious practice, in their effects on behavior. Using newly-collected matching datasets from West Bengal and Bangladesh, I discuss the relative effects of religion and religiosity on fertility across Hindus and Muslims, and examine the types of religious practices most strongly associated with family size. I find that public practice of religion is associated with higher fertility while private practice is associated with lower fertility, consistent with models of religious cooperation. I also find that some measures of religious identity and relationships with co-religionists are associated with higher fertility, consistent with models emphasizing secularism and the effects of marginalization on religious minorities.

For questions about South Asian Studies at Penn State, email Jessica V. Birkenholtz at jvanbirk@psu.edu.