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Academic Publication

Religious or Spiritual Connection and Subjective Well-being Around the World

December 16, 2022

Contributors: Richard G. Cowden, Human Flourishing Program, Harvard University

Telli Davoodi, Public Sector Research, Gallup


Religion/spirituality plays a fundamental role in the lives of many people around the world, with more than 80% of individuals worldwide identifying with a religious/spiritual tradition. Complementing existing global research on how religious/spiritual identification and participation is related to various facets of well-being, we leverage nationally representative cross-sectional data from approximately 4 million individuals across more than 114 countries around the world to describe the global, regional, and country-level distribution of self-reported religious/spiritual connection and its association with subjective well-being (operationalized as three interrelated dimensions: evaluations of satisfaction with life, positive affect, and negative affect). As a supplementary analysis, we explore whether the association between religious/spiritual connection and subjective well-being varies by religious affiliation at global, regional, and country levels. We discuss the implications of these findings for enriching existing knowledge about people’s experiences of religious/spiritual connection at local, regional, and global levels.

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