Violence, Insecurity, and Religiosity: A Multilevel Analysis of 71 Countries
39 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2017 Last revised: 6 May 2018
Date Written: April 30, 2018
A large social science literature demonstrates a link between personal insecurity and religiosity. When individuals are healthy, literate, and gainfully employed, they tend to be less religious. One of the most fundamental threats to an individual is the risk of violence, but this important marker of insecurity has been unexplored in recent studies of the determinants of religiosity. We use a unique dataset that measures state-sponsored terror, an ideal measure for studying insecurity, and explore the relationship between violence and religious beliefs and practices in 71 countries during the period 1981-2011. We find a robust positive association between violence and religiosity, and offer several reasons to believe that this is a causal relationship. Drawing on psychological studies, we argue that the specific mechanism at work deals with religious coping, a uniquely efficacious way of combating the stress and anxiety produced by the threat of recurrent violence.
Keywords: Political Violence, Insecurity Theory, Religiosity, World Values Survey, Terror
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