October 25, 2005

Church-going boosts economic well-being: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attending religious services may
enrich the soul, but it also fattens the wallet, according to
research released on Tuesday.

"Doubling the frequency of attendance leads to a 9.1
percent increase in household income, or a rise of 5.5 percent
as a fraction of the poverty scale," Jonathan Gruber of the
economics department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
wrote in his study.

"Those with more faith may be less 'stressed out' about
daily problems that impede success in the labor market and the
marriage market, and therefore are more successful," Gruber
wrote in the study, which was released by the National Bureau
of Economic Research.

Living in a community with complementary ethnic groups that
share the same religion increases the frequency of going to a
house of worship, he said in the paper titled "Religious Market
Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion
Good for You?"

Such visits correlate to higher levels of education and
income, lower levels of welfare receipt and disability, higher
levels of marriage and lower levels of divorce, the study said.

Gruber says he focused on non-Hispanic whites aged 25 or
older because "there is very strong evidence of racial
segregation in church-going, so that the density of Hispanics
or non-whites in a religion in some area is not likely to be
relevant for the religious participation of whites in that

Gruber divided the individuals into seven groups:
Catholics, Jews, Liberal Protestants, Moderate Protestants,
Conservative Protestants, other and none.