, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 273–285

Religious involvement and U.S. adult mortality

  • Robert A. Hummer
  • Richard G. Rogers
  • Charles B. Nam
  • Christopher G. Ellison
Factors Affecting Mortality

DOI: 10.2307/2648114

Cite this article as:
Hummer, R.A., Rogers, R.G., Nam, C.B. et al. Demography (1999) 36: 273. doi:10.2307/2648114


We use recently released, nationally representative data from the National Health Interview Survey—Multiple Cause of Death linked file to model the association of religious attendance and sociodemographic, health, and behavioral correlates with overall and cause-specific mortality. Religious attendance is associated with U.S. adult mortality in a graded fashion: People who never attend exhibit 1.87 times the risk of death in the follow-up period compared with people who attend more than once a week. This translates into a seven-year difference in life expectancy at age 20 between those who never attend and those who attend more than once a week. Health selectivity is responsible for a portion of the religious attendance effect: People who do not attend church or religious services are also more likely to be unhealthy and, conse-quently, to die. However, religious attendance also works through increased social ties and behavioral factors to decrease the risks of death. And although the magnitude of the association between religious attendance and mortality varies by cause of death, the direction of the association is consistent across causes.

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Hummer
    • 1
  • Richard G. Rogers
    • 2
  • Charles B. Nam
    • 3
  • Christopher G. Ellison
    • 4
  1. 1.Population Research Center and Department of SociologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustin
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Population ProgramUniversity of Colorado at BoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and Center for the Study of PopulationFlorida State UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Sociology and Population Research CenterUniversity of Texas at AustinUSA

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