This site uses cookies

Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us to improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used.

For more detailed information please check our Cookie notice

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality. This website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Cookies that measure website use

If you provide permission, we will use Google Analytics to measure how you use the website so we can improve it based on our understanding of user needs. Google Analytics sets cookies that store anonymised information about how you got to the site, the pages you visit, how long you spend on each page and what you click on while you’re visiting the site.

Mixed religion relationships in Northern Ireland: What are the implications?

Author: Kareena McAloney
Institution: University of York
Type of case study: Research

About the research

Both religion and marriage have been associated with health and well-being, but little is known about how differences in religious faith within partnership relations influence health and well-being. In Northern Ireland religious segregation between Catholics and Protestants is pervasive, and there is a low prevalence of mixed marriages. This project examines the prevalence of mixed-religion relationships in Northern Ireland, and explores associations with physical and mental health.

In general, the research findings suggest that less than 10 per cent of relationships are between partners of different religions, which is associated with poorer psychological health. Mixing religions in intimate relationships is a particularly noteworthy form of intergroup contact, and it is important to be aware of the implications of such contact for the health and well-being of individuals in order that they can be better supported.


This paper analysed secondary data from the Northern Ireland cohort within the first wave of Understanding Society, 2009 – 2010 (2nd edition). Analyses include bivariate descriptive statistics, and estimation of linear regression models which include mixed-religion relationship status as an independent variable, and mental and physical health as a dependent variable.


McAloney, K. (2013) ”Mixed’ religion relationships and well-being in Northern Ireland’ Journal of Religion and Health, pp. 1-10.. doi: 10.1007/s10943-013-9701-6