Religion and Happiness Among Israeli Jews: Findings from the ISSP Religion III Survey
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This study investigates religious predictors of happiness in a population-based sample of Israeli Jewish adults (N = 991). Using data collected in 2009–2010 as a part of the International Social Survey Programme’s Religion III Survey, analyses were conducted on a fully recursive structural model of the effects of synagogue attendance and several religious mediators on a single-item measure of happiness. Bivariately, every religious measure (synagogue attendance, prayer frequency, certainty of God beliefs, a four-item Supernatural Beliefs Scale, and subjective religiosity) is positively and significantly associated with happiness. In the structural model, 11 of 15 hypothesized paths are significant. Of these, only subjective religiosity exhibits a significant direct effect on happiness (β = 0.15, p < .01). The other four religious indicators, however, all exert indirect effects on happiness through subjective religiosity and combinations of each other. Total effects on happiness of both synagogue attendance (β = 0.10, p < .01) and the Supernatural Beliefs Scale (β = 0.12, p < .05) are statistically significant. Analyses adjust for effects of age and other sociodemographic covariates. Results build on a growing body of population-based findings supporting a salutary impact of Jewish religious observance on subjective well-being in Israel and the diaspora.
KeywordsReligion Happiness Judaism Israel
The author would like to thank Rabbi Gordon Fuller for his assistance in translating some Hebrew-only material from the ISSP’s Israeli codebook; Dr. Neal Krause for his guidance regarding aspects of the decomposition of path effects; and Josh Jang for his help with graphics software.
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