The Sociological Review 2021, Vol. 69(4) 862–880 © The Author(s) 2021
Special Issue: Exploring the Legacy of the Baby Boomers: Myths and Realities of Intergenerational Relations in the Twenty-first Century
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Intergenerational inequalities in economic security, health and political participation are frequently associated with inequalities in access to social capital. Millennials (those born after 1982) are often regarded as the least civically active generation, suggesting that they have less access to social capital, compared to other generations. Numerous studies have linked the decline of religion with falling social capital, as younger generations are deprived of a valuable source of social interaction; others, however, have claimed the link between the two is spurious because Millennials have developed different ways of interacting with social institutions and each other. Despite various studies exploring links between forms of religious and social capital, the role of religious decline in contributing to the intergenerational inequalities of today remains unclear. This study examines how religious capital is related to social capital for Baby Boomers and Millennials in the UK. Our analysis shows that while lower levels of religious capital are contributing to lower levels of social capital among Millennials, religious activity is also a more effective source of social capital for Millennials than their elders. We discuss possible interpretations of our data, including exploring whether greater religious engagement among Millennials may protect against intergenerational inequality and conflict.