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Authentic Happiness Theory Supported by Impact of Religion on Life Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Analysis with Data for Germany

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Author Info

  • Bruce Headey
  • Jürgen Schupp
  • Ingrid Tucci
  • Gert G. Wagner

Abstract

Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (SOEP), this paper assesses the relationship between life satisfaction and religious practice. The main new result here is longitudinal. It is shown that individuals who become more religious over time record long term gains in life satisfaction, while those who become less religious record long term losses. This result holds net of the effects of personality traits, and also in fixed effects panel models. The paper has significant implications for the dominant, paradigm theory in SWB research, namely set-point theory. This theory holds that the long term SWB of adult individuals is stable, because SWB depends on personality traits and other stable genetic factors. It is already clear from the German panel data that about 20% of the population have recorded large long term changes in SWB. New evidence in this paper and elsewhere about the effects of consciously chosen life goals, including religious ones, on SWB is hard to reconcile with set-point theory. It is more in line with authentic happiness theory.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 151.

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Length: 26 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp151

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Keywords: SWB; life satisfaction; set-point theory; authentic happiness theory; longitudinal analysis; SOEP;

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References

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  1. Bruce Headey, 2006. "Subjective Well-Being: Revisions to Dynamic Equilibrium Theory using National Panel Data and Panel Regression Methods," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 79(3), pages 369-403, December.
  2. Bruce Headey, 2008. "The Set-Point Theory of Well-Being: Negative Results and Consequent Revisions," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 85(3), pages 389-403, February.
  3. Breusch, T S & Pagan, A R, 1979. "A Simple Test for Heteroscedasticity and Random Coefficient Variation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(5), pages 1287-94, September.
  4. Andrew E. Clark & Orsolya Lelkes, 2009. "Let us pray: religious interactions in life satisfaction," PSE Working Papers halshs-00566120, HAL.
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Cited by:
  1. van Praag, Bernard M. S. & Romanov, Dmitri & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2010. "Happiness and Financial Satisfaction in Israel: Effects of Religiosity, Ethnicity, and War," IZA Discussion Papers 5184, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Silvia Garrido & Ildefonso Méndez & José-María Abellán, 2013. "Analysing the Simultaneous Relationship Between Life Satisfaction and Health-Related Quality of Life," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(6), pages 1813-1838, December.
  3. Frank J. Infurna & Denis Gerstorf & Nilam Ram & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Long-Term Antecedents and Outcomes of Perceived Control," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 355, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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