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Religion and Risky Health Behaviors among U.S. Adolescents and Adults

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  • Jason Fletcher
  • Sanjeev Kumar

Abstract

Recent studies analyzing the effects of religion on various economic, social, health and political outcomes have been largely associational. Although some attempts have been made to establish causation using instrument variable (IV) or difference-in-difference (DID) methods, the instruments and the spatial and temporal variations used in these studies suffer from the usual issues that threaten the use of these identification techniques--validity of exclusion restrictions, quality of counterfactuals in the presence of spatial assortative sorting of people, and concern about omitted variable bias in the absence of information on family level unobservables and child-specific investment by families. During the adolescent years, religious participation might be a matter of limited choice for many individuals, as it is often heavily reliant on parents and family background more generally. Moreover, the focus of most of the studies has been on religious rites and rituals i.e., religious participation or on the intensity of participation. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this paper analyzes the effects of a broad set of measures of religiosity on substance use at different stages of the life course. In contrast to previous studies, we find positive effects of religion on reducing all addictive substance use during adolescence, but not in a consistent fashion during the later years for any other illicit drugs except for crystal meth and marijuana.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Fletcher & Sanjeev Kumar, 2013. "Religion and Risky Health Behaviors among U.S. Adolescents and Adults," NBER Working Papers 19225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19225
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    1. #HEJC papers for August 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-08-01 04:00:48

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    Cited by:

    1. Berggren, Niclas & Ljunge, Martin, 2017. "Does Religion Make You Sick? Evidence of a Negative Relationship between Religious Background and Health," Working Paper Series 1173, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Grimm, Michael & Treibich, Carole, 2016. "Why do some motorbike riders wear a helmet and others don’t? Evidence from Delhi, India," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 318-336.
    3. Mendolia, Silvia & Paloyo, Alfredo R. & Walker, Ian, 2018. "The effect of religiosity on adolescent risky behaviors," Ruhr Economic Papers 755, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. Zhong Chunping & Pan Li & Shu Lingwei, 2016. "Do religious beliefs affect borrowing behavior? Evidence from Chinese households," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 989-1005, December.
    5. Mavisakalyan, Astghik & Tarverdi, Yashar & Weber, Clas, 2020. "Paradise Postponed: Future Tense and Religiosity," GLO Discussion Paper Series 500, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Daniel M. Hungerman, 2014. "Do Religious Proscriptions Matter?: Evidence from a Theory-Based Test," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(4), pages 1053-1093.
    7. Daniel M. Hungerman & Kevin Rinz & Jay Frymark, 2019. "Beyond the Classroom: The Implications of School Vouchers for Church Finances," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 588-601, October.
    8. Olga Popova, 2017. "Does religiosity explain economic outcomes?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 335-335, February.
    9. Mendolia Silvia & Paloyo Alfredo & Walker Ian, 2019. "Intrinsic Religiosity, Personality Traits, and Adolescent Risky Behaviors," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 1-16, July.
    10. Olga Popova, 2016. "Suffer for the Faith? Parental Religiosity and Children’s Health," Working Papers 356, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).

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    JEL classification:

    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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