Working Paper

Religiosity and Personal Well-Being: People Can Be Happy With or Without Religion

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Despite all economic and social transitions that have occurred in the last centuries we
still find that people go to church. Somehow religious beliefs have not vanished over time. Since
there is no material reward for going to church or praying religiosity has to create utility through
other means. It could raise peoples' personal well-being. In this paper we use information from the
World Values Survey about subjective happiness and life satisfaction. We relate this information to
revealed religiosity and measure if religiosity makes people happier. We use different methods and
also control for economic factors, family matters, health, and democracy. The key finding is that
there seems to be a U-shaped relationship between personal well-being and religiosity, especially so
for happiness. This result is consistent throughout all our estimations. Our analysis also gives hints
that higher income might lead to higher subjective well-being.


Matthias Opfinger


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