Death, Trauma and God: The Effect of Military Deployments on Religiosity

55 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by Resul Cesur

Resul Cesur

University of Connecticut, School of Business - Dept. of Healthcare Economics

Travis Freidman

University of New Hampshire

Joseph J. Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2018

Abstract

Learning to cope with man’s mortality is central to the teachings of the world’s major religions. However, very little is known about the impact of life-and-death trauma on religiosity. This study exploits a natural experiment in military deployments to estimate the causal effect of traumatic shocks on religiosity. We find that combat assignment is associated with a substantial increase in the probability that a serviceman subsequently attends religious services regularly and engages in private prayer. Combat-induced increases in religiosity are largest for enlisted servicemen, those under age 25, and servicemen wounded in combat. The physical and psychological burdens of war, as well as the presence of military chaplains in combat zones, emerge as possible mechanisms.

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Suggested Citation

Cesur, Resul and Freidman, Travis and Sabia, Joseph J., Death, Trauma and God: The Effect of Military Deployments on Religiosity (August 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24954. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3244237

Resul Cesur (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut, School of Business - Dept. of Healthcare Economics ( email )

School of Business
2100 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269
United States

Travis Freidman

University of New Hampshire

15 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
United States

Joseph J. Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States

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