A Pew research study has found that people who are regularly religiously active are happier and more engaged in civic matters than people who are religiously unaffiliated or religiously inactive.
The Pew Research Center conducted surveys in more than two dozen countries to measure people’s happiness, health, and civic engagement in correlation to their religious involvement.
According to the results, “This analysis finds that in the U.S. and many other countries around the world, regular participation in a religious community clearly is linked with higher levels of happiness and civic engagement.”
On average, the study found that 36 percent of religiously active people in the United States self-described themselves as very-happy were as only 25 percent of religiously inactive and unaffiliated people self-described themselves as very happy. This phenomenon repeated itself in 19 out of the 26 total countries the research team surveyed. The highest levels of happiness were reported in Mexico with 71 percent of religiously active people self-describing themselves as very happy, 64 percent of religiously inactive people describing themselves as very happy and 61 percent of religiously unaffiliated people describing themselves as very happy.
Belarus reported the lowest levels of happiness with only 11 percent of religiously active and religiously inactive people describing themselves as very happy and 13 percent of religiously unaffiliated people describing themselves as very happy.
The research team found similar correlations when it came to civic engagement. Pew found that out of the people surveyed in the United States 58 percent of religiously active people belonged of other social groups outside of their church and 69 percent of religiously active people always voted in national elections. This is compared to 51 percent of religiously inactive people and 39 percent religiously unaffiliated people who belong to nonreligious social groups and 59 percent of religiously inactive people and 48 percent of religiously unaffiliated people who always vote in national elections.
In regard to overall health, Pew found that there was little to no connection between religious activity or affiliation and better overall health. The research group did, however, find that more religiously active people are less likely to drink or smoke.
According to Pew, the results on happiness and civic engagement “may suggest that societies with declining levels of religious engagement, like the U.S., could be at risk for declines in personal and societal well-being. But the analysis finds comparatively little evidence that religious affiliation, by itself, is associated with a greater likelihood of personal happiness or civic involvement.”