Skip to main content
Log in

Religiosity and Subjective Wellbeing in Canada

  • Research Paper
  • Published:
Journal of Happiness Studies Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Using the Canadian Ethnic Diversity Survey, I explore how religiosity associates with self-reported levels of wellbeing. The overall association of religious intensity with subjective wellbeing is found to be statistically significant, positive and small. When the impact is allowed to vary by religious group, it appears that Catholics and Protestants are very similar in how religiosity impacts their subjective wellbeing; the association is statistically significantly stronger for Canadian Muslims; and Canadian Jews are the closest group to religious nones. Surprisingly, among different dimensions of religious commitment, the intensity of religious belief is found to be the driver of the overall positive association, across religious groups. Finally, when Canadian population is divided into linguistic groups, religious involvement emerges as a negative predictor of French Canadians’ subjective wellbeing.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. Sander (2002) maps the predetermined General Social Survey categories to a quantitative measure as follows: never equals 0; less than once a year equals 0.5; about once or twice a year equals 1; several times a year equals 3; about once a month equals 12; two to three times per month equals 30; nearly every week equals 40; and every week or more often equals 52. After rescaling the responses to these questions, they are recalibrated to vary between 0 and 5.

  2. Dividing a Probit coefficient by 3 provides an approximation for its associated marginal probability. If the dependent variable is not a dummy, e.g. Importance of Religion, the reported marginal effect is evaluated for the sample mean (sample mean × marginal probability).

  3. The latest manifestation of this difference was the proposition of the Québec Charter of Values, a provincial bill introduced by the governing Parti Québécois in 2013. It intended to define the limits of religious reasonable accommodation in Québec. There was much controversy in Québec and elsewhere about the Charter, especially its proposed prohibition of public sector employees from wearing or displaying “conspicuous” religious symbols. According to the bill, relatively discreet items such as a finger ring, earring or small pendants bearing a religious symbol would be allowed, while more obvious items such as a kippah, turban, head scarf, and larger crosses and religious pendants would be prohibited. The bill died on the order paper as of March 5, 2014 (see O'Neill et al. 2015).

References

  • Aldrich, J. H., & Nelson, F. D. (1984). Linear probability, logit, and probit models. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Argyle, M. (2003). Causes and correlates of happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 353–373). NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barrington-Leigh, C. P. (2013). The Quebec convergence and Canadian life satisfaction, 1985–2008. Canadian Public Policy, 39(2), 193–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrington-Leigh, C. P., & Helliwell, J. F. (2008). Empathy and emulation: Life satisfaction and the Urban geography of comparison groups. In Working paper 14593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA.

  • Barro, R., & Mitchell, J. (2004). Religious faith and economic growth: What matters most—belief or belonging?. Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bibby, R. (1990). La religion à la carte au Québec: Une analyse de tendances. Sociologie et Sociétés, 22(2), 133–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bibby, R. (2007). Religion À La Carte in Quebec: A problem of demand, supply, or both? http://www.reginaldbibby.com/images/Quebec_Paper_July07.pdf

  • Bibby, R. W. (2011). Continuing the conversation on Canada: Changing patterns of religious service attendance. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(4), 831–837.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brenner, P. S. (2016). Cross-national trends in religious service attendance. Public Opinion Quarterly, 80(2), 563–583.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burton, P., & Phipps, S. (2011). Families, time, and well-being in Canada. Canadian Public Policy, 37(3), 395–423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campante, F., & Yanagizawa-Drott, D. (2015). Does religion affect economic growth and happiness? Evidence from Ramadan. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(2), 615–658.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark A. E. & O. Lelkes (2006). Deliver us from evil: Religion as insurance. No 06/03, Papers on Economics of Religion, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada, https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00590570/

  • Deaton, A., & Stone, A. A. (2013). Two happiness puzzles. American Economic Review, 103(3), 591–597.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E. (2012). New findings and future directions for subjective well-being research. American Psychologist, 67(8), 590–597.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Diener, M., & Diener, C. (1995). Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 851–864.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., & Suh, E. M. (2000). Culture and subjective well-being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Tay, L., & Myers, D. G. (2011). The religion paradox: If religion makes people happy, why are so many dropping out? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1278–1290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eagle, D. E. (2011). Changing patterns of attendance at religious services in Canada, 1986–2008. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(1), 187–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eid, M., & Diener, E. (2001). Norms for experiencing emotions in different cultures: Inter-and intranational differences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(5), 869–885.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elliott, M., & Hayward, R. D. (2009). Religion and life satisfaction worldwide: The role of government regulation. Sociology of Religion, 70(3), 285–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ellison, C. G. (1991). Religious involvement and subjective well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 32(1), 80–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ellison, C. G., Gay, D. A., & Glass, T. A. (1989). Does religious commitment contribute to individual life satisfaction? Social Forces, 68(1), 100–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ellison, C. G., & Levin, J. S. (1998). The religion-health connection: Evidence, theory, and future directions. Health Education & Behavior, 25(6), 700–720.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferraro, K. F., & Albrecht-Jensen, C. M. (1991). Does religion influence adult health? Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 30(2), 193–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferriss, A. L. (2002). Religion and the quality of life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(3), 199–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Francis, L. J., Robbins, M., & White, A. (2003). Correlation between religion and happiness: A replication. Psychological Reports, 92(1), 51–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Frankel, B. G., & Hewitt, W. E. (1994). Religion and well-being among Canadian university students: The role of faith groups on campus. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 33(1), 62–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Friedman, M., & Saroglou, V. (2010). Religiosity, psychological acculturation to the host culture, self-esteem and depressive symptoms among stigmatized and nonstigmatized religious immigrant groups in Western Europe. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 32(2), 185–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gardes, F., & Merrigan, P. (2008). Individual needs and social pressure: Evidence on the Easterlin hypothesis using repeated cross-section surveys of Canadian households. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 66(3/4), 582–596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gauvreau, M. (2005). Catholic origins of Quebec’s quiet revolution. Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen′s University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gee, E. M., & Veevers, J. E. (1990). Religious involvement and life satisfaction in Canada. Sociology of Religion, 51(4), 387–394.

    Google Scholar 

  • George, L. K., Ellison, C. G., & Larson, D. B. (2002). Explaining the relationships between religious involvement and health. Psychological Inquiry, 13(3), 190–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greene, K. V., & Yoon, B. J. (2004). Religiosity, economics and life satisfaction. Review of Social Economy, 62(2), 245–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grözinger, G., & Matiaske, W. (2014). The direct and indirect impact of religion on well-being in Germany. Social Indicators Research, 116(2), 373–387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gundlach, E., & Opfinger, M. (2013). Religiosity as a determinant of happiness. Review of Development Economics, 17(3), 523–539.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hadaway, C. K. (1985). Life satisfaction and religion: A reanalysis. Social Forces, 57(2), 636–643.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harker, K. (2001). Immigrant generation, assimilation, and adolescent psychological well-being. Social Forces, 79(3), 969–1004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harrison, M. O., Koenig, H. G., Hays, J. C., Eme-Akwari, A. G., & Pargament, K. I. (2001). The epidemiology of religious coping: A review of recent literature. International Review of Psychiatry, 13(2), 86–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayo, B. (2007). Happiness in transition: An empirical study on Eastern Europe. Economic Systems, 31(2), 204–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Helliwell, J. F., & Huang, H. (2010). How’s the job? Well-being and social capital in the workplace. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 63(2), 205–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Helliwell, J. F., & Putnam, R. D. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions-Royal Society of London: Series B, 359(1449), 1435–1446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hill, R. (2004). Happiness in Canada since World War II. Social Indicators Research, 65(1), 109–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hunsberger, B. (1985). Religion, age, life satisfaction, and perceived sources of religiousness: A study of older persons. Journal of Gerontology, 40(5), 615–620.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iannaccone, L. R. (1992). Sacrifice and stigma: Reducing free-riding in cults, communes, and other collectives. Journal of political Economy, 100(2), 271–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Idler, E. L. (1987). Religious involvement and the health of the elderly: Some hypotheses and an initial test. Social Forces, 66(1), 226–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Idler, E. L. (2011). Religion and adult mortality: group-and individual-level perspectives. In International handbook of adult mortality (pp. 345–377). Netherlands: Springer.

  • Koenig, H. G., King, D., & Carson, V. B. (2012). Handbook of religion and health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koenig, H. G., Parkerson Jr, G. R., & Meador, K. G. (1997). Religion index for psychiatric research. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(6), 885–886.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krause, N. M. (2008). Aging in the church: How social relationships affect health. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lefebvre, S., & Beaman, L. G. (2014). Religion in the public sphere: Canadian case studies. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lelkes, O. (2006). Tasting freedom: Happiness, religion and economic transition. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 59(2), 173–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, C. A., & Cruise, S. M. (2006). Religion and happiness: Consensus, contradictions, comments and concerns. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 9(3), 213–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis, C. A., Lanigan, C., Joseph, S., & de Fockert, J. (1997). Religiosity and happiness: No evidence for an association among undergraduates. Personality and Individual Differences, 22(1), 119–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lim, C., & Putnam, R. D. (2010). Religion, social networks, and life satisfaction. American Sociological Review, 75(6), 914–933.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maton, K. I. (1989). The stress-buffering role of spiritual support: Cross-sectional and prospective investigations. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 28(3), 310–323.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oishi, S., & Schimmack, U. (2010). Culture and well-being: A new inquiry into the psychological wealth of nations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 463–471.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Okulicz-Kozaryn, A. (2010). Religiosity and life satisfaction across nations. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 13(2), 155–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oleckno, W. A., & Blacconiere, M. J. (1991). Relationship of religiosity to wellness and other health-related behaviors and outcomes. Psychological Reports, 68(3), 819–826.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Neill, B., Gidengil, E., Côté, C., & Young, L. (2015). Freedom of religion, women’s agency and banning the face veil: The role of feminist beliefs in shaping women’s opinion. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38(11), 1886–1901.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pollner, M. (1989). Divine relations, social relations, and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 30(1), 92–104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Powdthavee, N., & Van den Berg, B. (2011). Putting different price tags on the same health condition: Re-evaluating the well-being valuation approach. Journal of Health Economics, 30(5), 1032–1043.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ross, C. E. (1990). Religion and psychological distress. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29(2), 236–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sander, W. (2002). Religion and human capital. Econonmic Letters, 75(3), 303–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Saroglou, V., & Mathijsen, F. (2007). Religion, multiple identities, and acculturation: A study of muslim immigrants in Belgium. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 29(1), 177–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schafer, W. E. (1997). Religiosity, spirituality, and personal distress among college students. Journal of College Student Development, 38(6), 633–644.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shor, E., & Roelfs, D. J. (2013). The longevity effects of religious and nonreligious participation: A meta-analysis and meta-regression. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 52(1), 120–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Statistics Canada. (2003). Ethnic diversity survey (EDS) [Data Guide]. http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&Id=4077

  • Suh, E. M., Diener, E. D., & Updegraff, J. A. (2008). From culture to priming conditions self-construal influences on life satisfaction judgments. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39(1), 3–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tov, W., & Diener, E. (2013). Culture and subjective well-being. SSRN 2199219. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2199219

  • Whittaker, S., Hardy, G., Lewis, K., & Buchan, L. (2005). An exploration of psychological well-being with young Somali refugee and asylum-seeker women. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 10(2), 177–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zuckerman, P. (2009). Atheism, secularity, and well-being: How the findings of social science counter negative stereotypes and assumptions. Sociology Compass, 3(6), 949–971.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maryam Dilmaghani.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dilmaghani, M. Religiosity and Subjective Wellbeing in Canada. J Happiness Stud 19, 629–647 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9837-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9837-7

Keywords

Navigation