Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations


The Moderating Effects of Religiosity and Extracurricular Involvement On The Economic Disadvantage-Delinquency Association

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Alfred DeMaris (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Jorge Chavez (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Madeline Duntley (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Gary Oates (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Ashutosh Sohoni (Committee Member)


Strain theorists have long argued that various forms of stress are associated with economic disadvantage can lead to feelings of anger and frustration. Research has also shown that economic disadvantage is associated with a variety of negative outcomes, including both crime and delinquency. Recent research efforts have begun to focus on how certain conditioning factors related to social control, social support, and social capital may moderate the relationship between strain and negative outcomes. Researchers have also alluded to the role that religiosity may play as a moderator in the relationship between strain and negative behaviors. While strain theorists make the assumption that social control serves to inhibit criminal behavior, no study to date has answered questions about how other types of social control, such as involvement in extracurricular activities, may also moderate the relationship between economic disadvantage and delinquency. Finally, the role that racial differences play in economic disadvantage, strain and social control have not been investigated with respect to the moderation of religiosity and extracurricular activities upon the relationship between economic disadvantage and delinquency.

Waves I and II of the National Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) were used to investigate the possible moderation effects of religiosity and extracurricular involvement on the economic disadvantage and delinquency association. Additional analyses were conducted to examine if the aforementioned relationships differed as a function of race. Results from Tobit regression indicate that contrary to what was expected, poor teens who are publically religious engage in more violence. However, these results were also found to be products of sample selection and self-selection. Findings also demonstrate that teens who are poor exhibit less violence among those involved in contact sports. Similarly, being poor produces less stealing among poor teens who participate in either contact or noncontact sports. Data findings suggest that there are racial differences when controlling for parent’s religiosity, insofar as the public religiosity of poor Black tends to deter delinquency at higher rates compared to other racial groups. Poor Black teens also evidenced less violence, stealing, and alcohol use among those who participated in noncontact sports. Poor Hispanic teens involved in noncontact sports engaged in less marijuana use. Finally, those who participated in academic clubs used alcohol less frequently.