Religiosity as a Determinant of Happiness

17 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2013

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Date Written: August 2013


The empirical relation between happiness and religiosity is considered from the perspective of basic utility theory. An unbalanced cross‐country panel data set is used to study whether religiosity can be considered as a substitute in the happiness function, which itself is held to be a proxy for the utility function. We find that the same level of happiness can be maintained with high and low levels of religiosity as a result of substitution along a standard indifference curve. Our empirical results are consistent with three stylized facts of the empirical literature, namely a positive correlation between happiness and religiosity, a positive correlation between happiness and income, and a negative correlation between religiosity and income.

Suggested Citation

Gundlach, Erich and Opfinger, Matthias, Religiosity as a Determinant of Happiness (August 2013). Review of Development Economics - Special Issue. Guest Editor: Zhihao Yu, Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp. 523-539, 2013. Available at SSRN: or

Erich Gundlach (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg ( email )

Department of Economics
Von-Melle-Park 5
Hamburg, 20146
+49 40 428384589 (Phone)


Matthias Opfinger

University of Trier ( email )

15, Universitaetsring
Trier, 54286

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