Benefits of Religious upbringing of children: Harvard study
A recent Harvard study reveals that children who had a religious upbringing are likely to be healthier and have a higher degree of well-being in early adulthood than those who did not.
The Harvard study, “Associations of Religious Upbringing With Subsequent Health and Well-Being From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: An Outcome-Wide Analysis,” was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The study, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows a link between a religious upbringing and better physical and mental health in young adults.
Researchers found that people who attended religious services weekly or who practiced prayer or meditation daily in their youth reported having a higher life satisfaction and positivity in their 20s.
Individuals were found less likely to smoke, have symptoms of depression, use illicit drugs, or have sexually transmitted infections than people who engaged in less regular spiritual practices.
The researchers followed 5,000 young people for between eight to 14 years, controlling for variables such as maternal health, socioeconomic status, and histories of substance abuse or symptoms of depression.
Results show that those who went to religious services at least once a week as children were about 18 percent more likely to report higher levels of happiness as young adults between the ages of 23 and 30 than those who didn’t. They were also shown to be 29 percent more likely to volunteer in their local communities and 33 percent less likely to engage in the use of illicit drugs.
Those who prayed or meditated at least once a day in their youth were shown to be 16 percent more likely to report higher levels of happiness as young adults and were 30 percent less likely to have become sexually active in their adolescence. These individuals were also 40 percent less likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted infection than those who never prayed or meditated.
Associations of Religious Upbringing With Subsequent Health and Well-Being From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: An Outcome-Wide Analysis
Ying Chen Tyler J VanderWeele
American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 187, Issue 11, November 2018, Pages 2355–2364, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwy142
Published: 10 September 2018