Journal Article

Religion and Life Satisfaction Worldwide: The Role of Government Regulation*

Marta Elliott and R. David Hayward

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 70, issue 3, pages 285-310
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Religion and Life Satisfaction Worldwide: The Role of Government Regulation*

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This paper presents a cross-national test of the effects of personal religious identity and participation in organized religion on psychological well-being, and examines whether their effects vary as a function of the degree of government regulation of individual liberties in a given country. These questions are explored with the cross-sectional fourth wave of the World Values Surveys, utilizing data from 65 countries and hierarchical linear modeling to test cross-level effects. The results indicate two key findings: (1) personal religious identity is positively associated with life satisfaction throughout the world, but the association increases in size under conditions of greater governmental regulation; and, (2) the association between participation in organized religion and life satisfaction is positive under conditions of low government regulation, is attenuated as government regulation increases, and becomes negative when government regulation is high. The implications of these results for future research on religion and psychological well-being are discussed.

Keywords: religion; well-being; cross-national; government regulation

Journal Article.  8774 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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