Can Religion Stave Off the Grave?

Laura E. Wallace: We found that people whose obituaries mentioned a religious affiliation lived significantly longer than those whose obituaries did not. And this was not a small difference. On average, people whose obituary mentioned a religious affiliation lived almost four years longer. Why might this occur? One possibility is that religious institutions provide people with more opportunities to connect socially and give back to their communities. We know from previous research that social relationships and having meaning in life both promote well-being. Indeed, the obituaries of religiously affiliated people also tended to mention more social groups that they were a part of, and group memberships were also related to how long they lived. Similarly, we found that the obituaries of religious people tended to mention more volunteer activities, and the more volunteer activities mentioned, the longer people tended to live.

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