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Does Economic Insecurity Predict Religiosity? Evidence from the European Social Survey 2002–2014


sociology-of-religionJournal abstract

Economic development and increases in material security have been suggested as primary causes of secularization in the West. However, the relationship between economic insecurity and religion is both under-theorized and under-explored. The recent economic recession, and the financial insecurity faced by many households in Europe, both increase the relevance of such questions, and the availability of data to address them. The European Social Survey (ESS) has data on religiosity from 31 countries over seven waves, covering the period from 2002 to 2014. Using a multilevel model, we find that lower income, GDP, and social welfare availability are associated with more religiosity, and increases in social security through government welfare expenditure reduces country levels of religiosity over the 12 year period. Further we find that religious people are more likely to feel economically secure regardless of their income levels, which lends support to the hypothesized mechanism of religious stress buffering.

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