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A monetary valuation of individual religious behaviour: the case of prayer

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The majority of the US population is religious. The value of a fundamental religious behaviour, prayer, is determined using the well-being valuation method. Theoretically appropriate Instrumental Variables (IV) are used to avoid bias in estimating the effects of household income and the frequency of prayer on well-being. The marginal value of an additional weekly prayer session for individuals already at the national mean is estimated to be $6550 per annum (2004 dollars). Praying at the frequency of the national mean of 8.1 prayer sessions weekly is valued at $53 055 (2004 dollars) per annum. This is larger than the median household income in the US in 2004: $44 684. This suggests that the perception of communion with God is highly valued by religious individuals.

Keywords: A13; I31; happiness; prayer; religion; well-being

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley,CA, 94720-7360, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2013

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