Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 199–215 | Cite as

Religion and the Quality of Life

Article

Abstract

Subjective and objective indicators of the quality of life (QOL) are used to test relationships with religious involvement, participation, and belief. Findings from other studies show religious involvement to be associated with longer life. The percent of religious adherents in a state is correlated with the harmony domain of the QOL and negatively with an indicator of stress. After reviewing relevant previous studies, I examine data from the 1972–1996 General Social Survey Cumulative File. It shows happiness to be associated with the frequency of attendance at religious services, with denominational preference, and with doctrinal preference. Happiness also is associated with certain religious-related beliefs: belief that the world is evil or good but not belief in immortality. In a discussion of these and other findings, hypotheses are suggested to explain and to further explore the effects of religion upon the QOL. Among the conclusions: our conception of the "good life" rests heavily upon Judeo-Christian ideals; religious organizations contribute to the integration of the community, hence enhancing the QOL; since frequency of attendance is imperfectly associated with the QOL, other influences are at work; the doctrine of the religion may attract persons of happy disposition; religion may explain a purpose in life that fosters well-being; and others. I suggest implications of the findings for programs of religious organizations.

happiness quality of life harmony religion happiness longevity happiness and belief happiness and religious participation hapiness and doctrinal preferance 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Campbell, A., P.E. Converse and W. Rogers: 1976, The Quality of American Life. (Russell Sage Foundation, New York).Google Scholar
  2. Annie E. Casey Foundation: 1993, Kids Count Data Book: State Profiles in Child Well-Being (Center for the Study of Social Policy, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  3. Blazer, D. and E. Palmore: 1976, ‘Religion and aging in a longitudinal panel’, The Gerontologist 16, pp. 82–85.Google Scholar
  4. Brinkerhoff, M.B. and J.C. Jacob: 1987, ‘Quasi-religious meaning systems, official religion, and quality of life in an alternative life style: a survey from the backto-the-land movement’, The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 26(1), pp. 63–80.Google Scholar
  5. Courtney, B.G., L.W. Poon, P. Maretin, G.M. Clayton and M.A. Johnson: 1992, ‘Religiosity and adaptation in the oldest-old’, International Journal of Aging and Human Development 34(1), pp. 47–56.Google Scholar
  6. Cox, H. and A. Hammonds: 1988, ‘Religiosity, aging and life satisfaction’, Journal of Religion and Aging 5(2), pp. 1–21.Google Scholar
  7. Crandall, R.C.: 1980, Gerontology: A Behavioral Approach (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA).Google Scholar
  8. Davis, J.A. and T.W. Smith: 1996, General Social Survey, 1972–1996 (National Opinion Research Center, Chicago).Google Scholar
  9. Diener, E.: 1994, ‘Assessing subjective well-being: progress and opportunities’, Social Indicators Research 31, pp. 103–157.Google Scholar
  10. Diener, E., E. Suh and S. Oishi: 1997, ‘Recent findings on subjective well-being’, Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology 24, pp. 25–41Google Scholar
  11. Dudley, M.G. and F.A. Kosinski, Jr.: 1990, ‘Religiosity and marital satisfaction: a research note’, Review of Religious Research 32(1), pp. 78–86.Google Scholar
  12. Durkheim, E.: 1947, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (Free Press, New York).Google Scholar
  13. Edwards, J.N. and D.L. Klemmach: 1973, ‘Correlates of life satisfaction: a reexamination’, Journal of Gerontology 28, pp. 479–502.Google Scholar
  14. Emmons, R.A., C. Cheung and K. Tehrani: 1998, ‘Assessing spirituality through personal goals: implications for research on religion and subjective well-being’, Social Indicators Research 45(1–3), pp. 391–322.Google Scholar
  15. Ferriss, A.L.: 2000, ‘The Quality of life among U.S. states’, Social Indicators Research 49, pp. 1–23.Google Scholar
  16. Gee, E.M. and J.E. Veevers: 1990, ‘Religious involvement and life satisfaction in Canada’, Sociological Analysis 51, pp. 387–394.Google Scholar
  17. Guy, R.F.: 1982, ‘Religion, physical disabilities, and life satisfaction in older age cohorts’, International Journal of Aging and Human Development 15, pp. 225–232.Google Scholar
  18. Gwin, G., J. Verhoff and S. Field: 1960, Americans View their Mental Health (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor).Google Scholar
  19. Hadaway, C.K. and W.C. Roof: 1978, ‘Religious commitment and the quality of life in American Society’, Review of Religious Research 19(3), pp. 295–307.Google Scholar
  20. Hummer, R.A., R.G. Rogers, C.B. Nam, C.G. Elison: 1999, ‘Religious involvement and U.S. adult mortality’, Demography 36(2), pp. 273–285.Google Scholar
  21. Inglehart, R.: 1990, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Societies (Princeton University Press, Princeton).Google Scholar
  22. Keyes, C.L.M.: 1998, ‘Social well-being’, Social Psychological Quarterly 61(2), pp. 121–140.Google Scholar
  23. Krause, N., C.E. Ellison and K.M. Wulff: 1998, ‘Church-based emotional support, negative interaction, and psychological well-being: findings from a national sample of presbyterians’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37(4), pp. 725–741.Google Scholar
  24. Lepierre, S., L. Bouffard and E. Bastin: 1997, ‘Personal goals and subjective wellbeing in later life’, International Journal of Aging and Human Development 45(4), pp. 287–303.Google Scholar
  25. Levin, J.S. and R.J. Taylor: 1998, ‘Panel analyses of religious involvement and wellbeing in Lafrican Americans: contemporaneous vs. longitudinal’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37(4), pp. 695–709.Google Scholar
  26. Linsky, A.S., R. Buchman and M. Straus: 1995, Stress, Culture and Aggression (Yale University Press, New Haven and London).Google Scholar
  27. Markides, K.S.: 1983, ‘Aging, religiosity, and adjustment: a longitudinal analysis’, Journal of Gerontology 38, pp. 621–625.Google Scholar
  28. McCann, R.V.: 1962, The Churches and Mental Health (Basic Books, New York).Google Scholar
  29. Morris, D.C.: 1991, ‘Church attendance, religious activities and life satisfaction of older adults in Middletown, U.S.A.’, Journal of Religious Gerontology 81(1), pp. 83–96.Google Scholar
  30. Myers, D.G.: 1992, ‘The secrets of happiness’, Psychology Today, July–August, pp. 38–45.Google Scholar
  31. Myers, D.G.: 2000, ‘The funds, friends, and faith of happy people’, American Psychologist 55/1, pp. 56–67.Google Scholar
  32. Poloma, M.M. and B.F. Pendleton: 1989, ‘Exploring types of prayer and quality of life: a research note’, Review of Religious Research 31(1), pp. 46–53.Google Scholar
  33. Reed, K.: 1991, ‘Strength of religious affiliation and life satisfaction’, Sociological Analysis 52, pp. 205–210.Google Scholar
  34. Schweikar, W.F.: 1969, ‘Religion as a superordinate meaning system and sociopsychological integration’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 8(2), pp. 300–307.Google Scholar
  35. Southern Regional Council: 1991, The Climate for Workers in the United States,1990 (The Southern Regional Council, Atlanta, GA).Google Scholar
  36. Speitzer, E. and E. Snyder: 1974, ‘Correlates of life satisfaction among the aged’, Journal of Gerontology 29, pp. 454–458.Google Scholar
  37. Stark, R. and W.S. Bainbridge: 1980, ‘Towards a theory of religion: religious commitment’, Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion 19, pp. 111–128.Google Scholar
  38. Steinitz, L.Y.: 1980, ‘Religiosity, well-being, and weltanschauung among the elderly’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 19(1), pp. 60–67.Google Scholar
  39. Tatarkiewicz, W.: 1976, Analysis of Happiness (Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague).Google Scholar
  40. U.S. Bureau of the Census: 1991, Abstract of the United Statistical States (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington).Google Scholar
  41. Veenhoven, R.: 1993, Bibliography of Happiness (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam).Google Scholar
  42. Willits, F.K. and D.M. Crider: 1988, ‘Religion and well-being: men and women in middle years’, Review of Religious Research 29(3), pp. 281–294.Google Scholar
  43. Witter, R.A., W.A. Stock, M.A. Okum and M.J. Harding: 1985, ‘Religion and subjective well-being in adulthood: a quantitative synthesis’, Review of Religious Research 36(4), pp. 332–342.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atlanta

Personalised recommendations