Religion and Child Health
Barry R. Chiswick, Donka M. Mirtcheva
published in Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 34 (1), March 2013, pp. 120-140.
This paper examines the determinants of the health of children ages 6 to 19, as reported in the Child Development Supplements (CDS) to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The primary focus is on the effect of religion on the reported overall health and psychological health of the child. Three measures of religion/religiosity of the child are employed: whether there is a religious affiliation (and what kind), the importance of religion, and the frequency of church attendance. Other variables the same, the analysis reveals that there appears to be a positive association between both measures of health and the three measures of religion/religiosity. Those children (self-report or primary caregiver report) who have identified a religious affiliation, who view religion as very important, compared to those who view it as unimportant, and who attend church at least weekly compared to those who do not or seldom attend have higher levels of overall health and psychological health. When the analysis of affiliation is done by denomination, the primary difference is between those who report a religious affiliation and those who do not.
Text: See Discussion Paper No. 5215