Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2011

Religiosity as a determinant of happiness

Erich Gundlach, Matthias Opfinger

April 2011

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


We find a U-shaped relation between happiness and religiosity in cross-country panel data after controlling for income levels. At a given level of income, the same level of happiness can be reached with high and low levels of religiosity, but not with intermediate levels. A rise in income causes an increase in happiness along with a decline of religiosity. Our interpretation of the empirical results is that the indifference curves for religiosity and other commodities of the utility function are hump-shaped.