Merging the Religious Congregations and Membership Studies: A Data File for Documenting American Religious Change

Rachel Bacon, Roger Finke, Dale Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The decennial religious congregations and membership studies are a popular data source for analyzing local religious composition and diversity, but several methodological challenges hinder merging the datasets for longitudinal analyses. In this paper, we introduce strategies for addressing four of the most serious challenges: religious mergers and schisms, changes in membership standards within certain groups, missing data and changes in county boundaries. In doing so we successfully merge the 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 collections and build new longitudinal datasets of congregational and membership counts at the state and county levels. These changes increase religious group representation from 48 to 76, reduce bias from missing data, allow for the more reliable inclusion of 20–23 million adherents in each year, and improve overall ease of use. We also document instances when corrections were not possible and alert readers to the limitations of the merged files when measuring change among certain groups. The new longitudinal files are accessible from theARDA.com.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-422
Number of pages20
JournalReview of Religious Research
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Fingerprint

Religion
Congregations
Religious Change
File
Religious Groups
Inclusion
Mergers
Schism
Reader

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy

Cite this

@article{f619ba7ef5d7457ebe9f586f61bbb20a,
title = "Merging the Religious Congregations and Membership Studies: A Data File for Documenting American Religious Change",
abstract = "The decennial religious congregations and membership studies are a popular data source for analyzing local religious composition and diversity, but several methodological challenges hinder merging the datasets for longitudinal analyses. In this paper, we introduce strategies for addressing four of the most serious challenges: religious mergers and schisms, changes in membership standards within certain groups, missing data and changes in county boundaries. In doing so we successfully merge the 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 collections and build new longitudinal datasets of congregational and membership counts at the state and county levels. These changes increase religious group representation from 48 to 76, reduce bias from missing data, allow for the more reliable inclusion of 20–23 million adherents in each year, and improve overall ease of use. We also document instances when corrections were not possible and alert readers to the limitations of the merged files when measuring change among certain groups. The new longitudinal files are accessible from theARDA.com.",
author = "Rachel Bacon and Roger Finke and Dale Jones",
year = "2018",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s13644-018-0339-4",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "60",
pages = "403--422",
journal = "Review of Religious Research",
issn = "0034-673X",
publisher = "Religious Research Association",
number = "3",

}

Merging the Religious Congregations and Membership Studies : A Data File for Documenting American Religious Change. / Bacon, Rachel; Finke, Roger; Jones, Dale.

In: Review of Religious Research, Vol. 60, No. 3, 01.09.2018, p. 403-422.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Merging the Religious Congregations and Membership Studies

T2 - A Data File for Documenting American Religious Change

AU - Bacon, Rachel

AU - Finke, Roger

AU - Jones, Dale

PY - 2018/9/1

Y1 - 2018/9/1

N2 - The decennial religious congregations and membership studies are a popular data source for analyzing local religious composition and diversity, but several methodological challenges hinder merging the datasets for longitudinal analyses. In this paper, we introduce strategies for addressing four of the most serious challenges: religious mergers and schisms, changes in membership standards within certain groups, missing data and changes in county boundaries. In doing so we successfully merge the 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 collections and build new longitudinal datasets of congregational and membership counts at the state and county levels. These changes increase religious group representation from 48 to 76, reduce bias from missing data, allow for the more reliable inclusion of 20–23 million adherents in each year, and improve overall ease of use. We also document instances when corrections were not possible and alert readers to the limitations of the merged files when measuring change among certain groups. The new longitudinal files are accessible from theARDA.com.

AB - The decennial religious congregations and membership studies are a popular data source for analyzing local religious composition and diversity, but several methodological challenges hinder merging the datasets for longitudinal analyses. In this paper, we introduce strategies for addressing four of the most serious challenges: religious mergers and schisms, changes in membership standards within certain groups, missing data and changes in county boundaries. In doing so we successfully merge the 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 collections and build new longitudinal datasets of congregational and membership counts at the state and county levels. These changes increase religious group representation from 48 to 76, reduce bias from missing data, allow for the more reliable inclusion of 20–23 million adherents in each year, and improve overall ease of use. We also document instances when corrections were not possible and alert readers to the limitations of the merged files when measuring change among certain groups. The new longitudinal files are accessible from theARDA.com.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85053910102&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85053910102&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s13644-018-0339-4

DO - 10.1007/s13644-018-0339-4

M3 - Article

C2 - 30363782

AN - SCOPUS:85053910102

VL - 60

SP - 403

EP - 422

JO - Review of Religious Research

JF - Review of Religious Research

SN - 0034-673X

IS - 3

ER -