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Aging, Religion, and Health

Aging, Religion, and Health

(p.237) 8 Aging, Religion, and Health
Explorations in the Economics of Aging
Angus Deaton
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores aging, religion, and health. It considers both the determinants and consequences of religion. Determinants of religiosity and religious practice may include demographic characteristics such as age and gender, economic factors such as income and education, and attitudes of government toward religion. Among the consequences of religion may be health-related behavior and health status, as well as broader measures of well-being. To explore these issues, the chapter relies on data from the Gallup World Poll, which randomly samples individuals from 146 countries around the world. The chapter works with a model in which religiosity and religious practice are caused by income, education, age, and sex according to a stable set of patterns. Religion in turn is considered as a causal factor influencing health. While the chapter acknowledges substantial uncertainty, multidirectionality, and theoretical ambiguity in the causal relationships between religion and other variables, the study is presented as a largely exploratory first step in learning about these relationships. The chapter estimates these patterns for each country separately, and then examines similarities and differences across countries. It is a largely descriptive analysis of patterns of aging, religiosity, and health throughout the world.

Keywords:   aging, religion, health, secularization hypothesis, health-related behavior, health status

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