Religion and Life Satisfaction Worldwide: The Role of Government Regulation

Publication Abstract

Elliott M, and Hayward RD. 2009. "Religion and Life Satisfaction Worldwide: The Role of Government Regulation." Sociology of Religion 70(3): 285-310.

This paper presents a cross-national test of the effects of personal religious identity and participation in organized religion on psychological well-being, and examines whether their effects vary as a function of the degree of government regulation of individual liberties in a given country. These questions are explored with the cross-sectional fourth wave of the World Values Surveys, utilizing data from 65 countries and hierarchical linear modeling to test cross-level effects. The results indicate two key findings: (1) personal religious identity is positively associated with life satisfaction throughout the world, but the association increases in size under conditions of greater governmental regulation; and, (2) the association between participation in organized religion and life satisfaction is positive under conditions of low government regulation, is attenuated as government regulation increases, and becomes negative when government regulation is high. The implications of these results for future research on religion and psychological well-being are discussed