Date of Award

Spring 2017

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Michele Dillon

Second Advisor

Kenneth Johnson

Third Advisor

Rebecca Glauber


In the past 50 years, the United States has experienced a large influx of women, particularly those with young children, into the paid labor force. Concurrently, adults across the country have steadily moved away from organized religion. Nonetheless, sociological research has documented relationships between affiliation with conservative religious groups and negative attitudes towards women’s labor force participation. Further, research has shown that women in conservative religious groups like evangelical Protestants and Mormons are less likely than others to enter the labor force upon getting married and, among those who work, more likely to work a reduced schedule.

Building upon this body of work, I analyze the relationships between religious affiliation and women’s employment patterns from a macro-sociological perspective. Specifically, I ask whether the religious composition of a county is related its labor force structure. I focus on religious groups that stress the importance of traditional gender roles and have a strong in-group orientation, like evangelical Protestants and Mormons. I find little evidence of a direct relationship between percent evangelical Protestant or Mormon in a county and reduced female labor force participation I do, however, find that in counties where traditional families are the norm, increases in percent evangelical Protestant and percent Mormon are associated with decreases in women’s labor force participation and full-time employment. This study adds to a growing body of literature on religion and work by combining U.S. Census and religion data to illuminate the ways that religious structure is related to labor force structure and family life.