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Issue Date:  October 14, 2005

Research methods in the study of U.S. Catholics

The 2005 survey of U.S. Catholics reported in the National Catholic Reporter, Sept. 30, is the fourth in a series that began in 1987. The purpose is to measure trends in Catholic behavior and opinion, and thus the survey methods were kept constant throughout. The first survey, in 1987, was commissioned on the occasion of a papal visit to the United States, and the others were done in following six-year intervals. All data were collected by the Gallup Organization, using telephone interviews based on identical random digit dialing sampling methods. The sample size in 1987 was 803, and it included persons 18 or older in noninstitutionalized settings who said she or he was Catholic.

The 1993 sample was 802, sampled in the identical manner. The 1999 sample was slightly larger -- 877 persons, of whom 12 percent were Hispanic. The 2005 sample was 875, of whom 15 percent were Hispanic.

The margin of error within any of the four samples is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

That is, 95 times out of 100 any reported figure is within 3 percentage points of the true figure in the Catholic population. When comparing across samples, the margin of error for the difference is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

--William D’Antonio and Dean Hoge

The following is a list of all of the tables and figures listed in the September 30 cover stories:
Table 1: Can you be a good Catholic without this?
Table 2: Attitudes on which Catholics highly committed to the church are distinctive
Table 3: Generational differences over time
Table 4: Demographic portrait of American Catholics, by political party
Table 5: Behavior and commitment of American Catholics, by party preference
Table 6: Attitudes about abortion and death penalty by generation
Table 7: Differences in attitudes about church teachings, by party preference
Table 8: Attitudes about parish life
Table 9: Would you be willing to accept in you parish ...
Table 10: Church as mediator by generation
Table 11: Acceptable parish accommodations to the priest shortage
Table 12: Possible responses to the priest shortage
Table 13: 'Cannot explain faith to others'
Table 14: Did you ever attend a Catholic school or college for any of your education?
Table 15: Catholic high school or college attendees have more education, income
Table 16: Catholic high school and attachment to the church
Table 17: Catholic high school and attitudes about parish life
Table 18: Appropriate role for parishioners with respect to parish finances
Figure 1: How important to you?
Figure 2: Attend Mass weekly or more
Figure 3: Changing behaviors and attitudes about attending Mass
Figure 4: Catholic laity should have the right to participate in deciding how parish income should be spent
Figure 5: Parishioners' role in parish finances should be ...

National Catholic Reporter, October 14, 2005

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