chart is taken from a study conducted by Visiting Fellow Althea Nagai for Family
Adults who frequently attended religious services as adolescents are more
likely to be very happy than those who did not.
According to the General Social Survey (GSS), 34.1 percent of adults who
attended religious services at least monthly as adolescents considered
themselves very happy, compared to 28.9 percent of adults who attended worship
less than monthly as adolescents.
Though no related studies, to the best of our knowledge, have been conducted
on intergenerational links between adolescent religious attendance and adult
happiness, there are several studies that demonstrate a contemporaneous
connection between religious attendance and happiness. Rajeev Dehejia of Tufts
University and colleagues reported that religious attendance provides happiness
insurance against a sudden loss in income. Specifically, "active religious
participation buffers about two thirds of the reduction in happiness from a
negative income shock."
In an examination of 101 undergraduate students, Sarah French and Stephen
Joseph of the University of Essex also found evidence that "religiosity is
associated with happiness."
Though few studies have been conducted in this area, the available evidence
indicates a significant association between religious attendance and
Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.
Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Center for Family and
Religion at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family
chart draws on data collected by the General Social Survey, 1972-2006. From 1972
to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979,
1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered
years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a
third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.
Dehejia, et al., "Insuring Consumption and Happiness through Religious
Organizations," Journal of Public Economics, vol. 91 (2007): 259-279.
French and Stephen Joseph, 'Religiosity and Its Association with Happiness,
Purpose in Life, and Self-Actualization," Mental Health, Religion &
Culture, vol. 2 (1999): 117-120.