Religiosity and Subjective Well-Being Among Old People Evidence from a Transitional Country

Using data from the 2011 Vietnam National Aging Survey, we examined whether religion is associated with subjective well-being (i.e. happiness or life satisfaction) among old people in Vietnam. Our regression analysis provided the first evidence that some religious affiliations are negatively related to happiness. Buddhists and Caodaists are less happy than their non-religious counterparts, even after controlling for several household and individual attributes. However, this negative association does not hold for Christians. This finding is robust to the choice of key covariates and specification of econometric models. Our finding supports the hypothesis that religiosity tends to be linked with unhappiness in transitional countries possibly because in these countries those who are religious often consist disproportionately of new, relatively unhappy recruits.

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