Does Security Increase Secularity? Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey on the Relationship between Income and Religious Service Attendance

in Journal of Religion in Europe
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Material security has been associated with lower religious attendance both between and within countries and has been proposed as one of the mechanisms causing long term religious decline in economically developed countries. Using a British panel study, this article examines (a) whether change to household incomes can incite individual religious change and (b) whether religion can buffer against the stress of economic loss.

The main trend in Britain is that of religious stability or decline, and income change does nothing to reverse this trend. Increases in household income are associated with religious disengagement, but income reduction has no effect on religious attendance. However, religious activity may still act as a ‘buffer’ by improving and maintaining life satisfaction in the face of economic loss.

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Figures
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    Percentage of monthly religious service attendance in 1991–2012.

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    Predicted margins—religious service attendance at least monthly by change in household income.

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    Predicted margins—life satisfaction (1–7) by monthly religious service attendance and change in household income.

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