Consideration of Priesthood and Religious Life Among Never-Married U.S. Catholics by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University - Washington, D.C.
In winter 2012, the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to conduct a national poll of never-married Catholics regarding their consideration of vocations. CARA partnered with Knowledge Networks to conduct the survey in May and June 2012. The survey was completed by 1,609 respondents. Sixty-five percent of panel members invited to take the survey completed it. A total of 1,428 respondents are qualified for this analysis resulting in a margin of sampling error of ±2.6 percentage points.6
Knowledge Networks maintains a large national sample of households. Its panel (the set of participating households) is updated frequently and has been assembled by regular random telephone and mail survey methods, with attempts to closely approximate known demographic characteristics of the U.S. population.7 Panel members receive subsidized Internet access and other incentives. For those who do not own computers, Knowledge Networks provides a television-based Internet system (MSN TV) for free. These steps ensure that the Knowledge Networks panel is as reflective as possible of the national population and that it is not biased towards only those who have pre-existing access to the Internet. At the time of the survey, 17 percent of those invited to be a part of the Knowledge Networks panel accepted this invitation.
Knowledge Networks surveys are conducted “on-screen” and this format allows for the display of longer lists of information than could be used in a telephone poll. This feature was important to this project as it allowed for questions that listed numerous specific media titles. CARA used the geographic county codes for respondents and diocesan publications so that the specific local title of diocesan newspapers and magazines would appear onscreen for respondents. The questionnaire for the survey was developed collaboratively between CARA and a representative of the Secretariat. This questionnaire is available in Appendix.
Where possible, this report includes, comparisons to two surveys conducted by CARA in 2003 and 2008 which asked questions about vocations to a national sample of U.S. adult Catholics.
As a rule of thumb, every 1 percentage point of the total sample is approximately equivalent to 245,000 never-married Catholics age 14 or older.
- A total of 174 teens who were selected because they have Catholic parents indicated that they did not themselves self-identify as Catholic. Two respondents indicated they are currently clergy or religious. Five teen respondents were removed because CARA determined that their survey was answered by one of their parents.
- A recent study by Stanford University researchers shows that the Knowledge Networks panel is representative to well within one percentage point of the U.S. Census Current Population Survey (CPS) demographics for gender, age, race and ethnicity, education, and region (Baker et al. 2003. “Validity of the Survey of Health and Internet and Knowledge Networks Panel and Sampling.”).