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The Direct and Indirect Impact of Religion on Well-Being in Germany


A European Social Survey (ESS)—based study of Clark and Lelkes on the European level showed a double positive connection between religion and life-satisfaction: not only did a personal involvement have a positive impact, but there was also a regional externality. Even atheists seemed to be happier in areas with many religious people. However, the regional structure of the ESS can be seen as methodologically doubtful. We therefore replicated the study with more rich German data. In our study we confirm the positive individual effect of religion, but we did find a negative regional externality. However, further analysis revealed, this was an effect of an omitted variable: the degree of urbanization. In a more detailed approach we show that this effect is confined to areas with a protestant majority. We conclude that the positive degree of urbanization influence on life-satisfaction is presumably due to the chance for more political participation in the (protestant) city states in Germany.

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Correspondence to Gerd Grözinger.

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Grözinger, G., Matiaske, W. The Direct and Indirect Impact of Religion on Well-Being in Germany. Soc Indic Res 116, 373–387 (2014).

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  • Life satisfaction
  • Religion
  • Regions
  • Germany