Skip to content

Research Paper Quantitative Social Science Working Papers 21-11

The impact of religious attendance on trust, volunteering, and cooperation: a cross-lagged panel analysis with individual fixed-effects

Authors

Publication date

Apr 2021

Summary

Does religious involvement make people more trusting, prosocial, and cooperative? In view of conflicting theories and mixed prior evidence, we subject this question to a stringent test using large-scale, representative panel data from the British Household Panel Survey (1991-2009, N ≈ 26,000) and the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009-2019, N ≈ 77,000). We employ cross-lagged panel models with individual fixed effects to account for time-invariant confounders and reverse causality as two issues that have haunted earlier research. We find that religious involvement, measured by frequency of religious service attendance, on average has a positive impact on generalized trust, volunteering, and cooperation. Compared with religious attendance, other indicators of religious involvement, such as subjective importance of religion or whether one is religiously affiliated, have weaker effects on trust, volunteering, and cooperation. We also document substantial variation across religious traditions: the effects of religious attendance are strongest for Anglicans and other Protestants, but weaker and mostly statistically insignificant for Catholics, Hindus, and the nonreligious, while for Muslims we observe a negative effect of religious attendance on cooperation. Our findings are robust to the inclusion of potential confounders and a range of alternative model set-ups. Our study thus shows that religious involvement can indeed foster prosocial behaviours and attitudes, although this effect is in the current study context mostly restricted to religious service attendance and majority religions.

Subjects

Religion, Ethnic Groups, Societies, Social Capital, and Social Behaviour

Links

https://econpapers.repec.org/paper/qssdqsswp/2111.htm

#536714


Research home

Research home

News

Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author

Podcasts

Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society

Projects

Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs

Events

Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report

Themes

Key research themes and areas of interest