New Study From Ohio State University Shows That Religious People Live Longer Than Atheists

June 18, 2018 10:29

Despite being identified as a secular state, many Americans still profess devotion to one faith or another.


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2016 Gallup polls revealed that 89% of Americans still believe in God. When asked the same question but worded differently (in this case, respondents were asked if they believed in a “universal spirit”), polls still recorded the same 89% positive response.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Ohio State says that people who believe in God or profess a faith tend to live four years longer than most atheists on average. Their correlation was based on a sampling of 1,000 obituaries.

According to the study, people who attended church regularly enjoyed associated social activities and volunteer work, that kept them in close contact with other people. This association has been tied to longevity in the past in other studies. Also, they discovered that general abstinence from alcohol by people of faith appeared to boost longevity as well.

Dr. Baldwin Way, associate professor of psychology at the Ohio State University who co-authored the study, says that the findings may not be accepted by atheists, but they did shed some light on the subject of longevity.

The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives.

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The study was conducted in two phases. Phase one involved 505 obituaries in the Des Moines Register in Iowa in January and February 2012. And the second study was conducted across 42 states in America with obituaries going from August 2010 through August 2011.


After the first study, researchers discovered religious people lived 9.45 year longer than atheists. Dr. Way suggests that religions "promote stress-reducing practices that may improve health, such as gratitude, prayer or meditation".

Study lead author Laura Wallace, a doctoral student in psychology at the Ohio State University, said the effects of conformity to religious norms even spilled over to non-religious people in some communities.

The spillover effect only occurs in highly religious cities that aren't too concerned about everyone conforming to the same norms. In those areas, non-religious people tend to live as long as do religious people.

Yet another study by Harvard University showed that regular attendance to religious activities results in 30% reduction in depression and mortality.

The study conducted by Harvard had women who worked as nurses in the U.S. as respondents. A good number of the women were either Catholics or Protestants and would often go to church and other religious activities.


One possible explanation for the positive results is the undeniable effect of social support in the lives of people.

What are your thoughts about these findings and do you agree that belief in a higher power adds a few more years to people of faith?

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