Authentic Happiness Theory Supported by Impact of Religion on Life Satisfaction - A Longitudinal Analysis with Data for Germany
University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität; The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel
Gert G. Wagner
German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); Berlin University of Technology; German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)
December 30, 2008
SOEPpaper No. 151
Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (SOEP), this paper assesses the relationship between life satisfaction and religious practice. The main new result here is longitudinal. It is shown that individuals who become more religious over time record long term gains in life satisfaction, while those who become less religious record long term losses. This result holds net of the effects of personality traits, and also in fixed effects panel models. The paper has significant implications for the dominant, paradigm theory in SWB research, namely set-point theory. This theory holds that the long term SWB of adult individuals is stable, because SWB depends on personality traits and other stable genetic factors. It is already clear from the German panel data that about 20% of the population have recorded large long term changes in SWB. New evidence in this paper and elsewhere about the effects of consciously chosen life goals, including religious ones, on SWB is hard to reconcile with set-point theory. It is more in line with authentic happiness theory.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: SWB, life satisfaction, set-point theory, authentic happiness theory, longitudinal analysis, SOEP
JEL Classification: A12, A13, Y80, Z12
Date posted: February 21, 2009 ; Last revised: July 13, 2010
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