Research Shows Religion Can Boost Lifespan by 4 Years

Studies on religious affiliation from obituaries

Researchers from Columbus located Ohio State University did two studies that show religion can provide a four-year longevity boost . The team was led by Laura Wallace, a doctoral researcher in psychology.

The first study revealed religious believers remained alive 9.45 years more than those people whose obituary showed no religious affiliation. After compensating for marital status and sex, it was found that believers lived about 6.48 years more compared to non-believers. When it came to the second study, the gap was initially 5.64 years, then it dropped to 3.82 years when marital status and sex were included. Wallace, the lead researcher, articulated the highlight of the findings: “Religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The studies have underscored social activities' importance when it came to longevity. The team wanted to make sure that the increase in life years did not correlate with volunteer activities and social activities which have seen popular participation. Wallace noted that social organizations and volunteerism involvement accounted for less than one year of the reported longevity boost provided by religious affiliation. It is apparent religious affiliation brings with it multiple benefits which cannot be explained.

The researchers have speculated on the probable reasons of religion providing a longevity boost. One reason, according to Baldwin Way, Ohio State University's associate professor, and the study co-author is that the increased lifespan may be due to the absence of unhealthful practices like drinking alcohol and drug use.

The team analyzed a total of 505 obituaries published in the Des Moines Register. The first study spanned two months, January to February 2012. The second study dealt with 1,096 obituaries published online from 42 U.S. cities. This period began in August 2010 and ended in August 2011. Both studies took weighed in marital status and sex of the respondents. The math also included the religious social activities participated by the respondents.

The methodology was important. It was known earlier that longevity has a direct correlation with attendance in religious services. The problem was that the existing data was self-reported. It was all volunteer samples. Volunteerism and social integration were found to play a significant role in the relation between religion and longevity.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter