Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Does religion make you happier?

Here is an interesting thread of discussion about religion and happiness (sent to me by David... Thanks!).

Arthur Brooks, in his book Gross National Happiness, makes the empirical observation that in the U.S. there is a positive correlation between religious involvement and happiness.

Will Wilkinson in a review says that's true, but the religion-happiness link is not universal. In Europe there is no correlation.

Ross Douthat, of the Atlantic, frames the issue as one of religious culture. The U.S. has a stronger religious culture, and so being outside of it causes alienation and less happiness. Not so in Europe.

I don't know the literature well enough to evaluate this discussion, but it raises interesting issues about the effects of religion and how it might vary by culture.

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