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Religion, time use, and affective well-being

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This study examines whether religious people experience more positive affect and less negative affect in everyday life and, if they do, whether it is because of the differences in how they allocate time to different activities or because they feel differently during similar activities. Using the well-being module from the 2010-13 American Time Use Survey (ATUS), I show that churchgoers enjoy a significantly higher level of affective well-being on Sunday than non-churchgoers do. The supplementary analysis of the Gallup Daily Poll data suggests that this higher level of affective wellbeing among churchgoers is found throughout the rest of the week as well. Further analyses of the ATUS demonstrate that about 40 percent of the affective well-being gap between churchgoers and non-churchgoers on Sunday can be explained by how they spend their time differently. Churchgoers spend more time on Sunday participating in pleasant activities shared with family members and friends than non-churchgoers do. More than half of the gap, however, remains unexplained, implying that it has to do with how they feel during similar activities rather than the activities in which they participate. I discuss the implications of these findings on the mechanisms underlying the link between religion and subjective well-being.




Lim, C. (2016). Religion, time use, and affective well-being. Sociological Science, 3, 685–709.

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