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Study: Religiosity Linked to Life Expectancy

A study from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom shows a link between increased life expectancy in developed countries and delayed interest in religion. Study author and economist Elissaios Papyrakis says people don’t tend to feel the need to rush their religious participation when there’s no urgent need to consider the afterlife. “We show that higher life expectancy discounts expected benefits in the afterlife and is therefore likely to lead to postponement of religiosity, without necessarily jeopardizing benefits in the afterlife.” The study found that religious participation is much higher in underdeveloped countries with lower life expectancies, such as Nigeria and Pakistan, the vast majority of whose residents attend church at least monthly. The study suggests that, to reach the non-religious, churches should focus more on the benefits of religion in day-to-day life (such as community, peace, guidance, and support) and not solely on the benefits of the afterlife.  

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.