JENNIFER M. MELLOR,and BETH A. FREEBORN
aDepartment of Economics and Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA
bDepartment of Economics College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA, USA
Religious participation has been linked to several beneficial outcomes such as increased educational attainment, reduced divorce rates, and lower mortality. In addition, many studies report that religious participation is associated with a reduced propensity to engage in risky health behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use. Findings from the adolescent population are of special interest, given the consequences of risky behaviors for both long-term health and educational attainment. It may be that religion directly deters adolescents from engaging in risky behaviors by instilling moral values and self-control skills.
Alternatively, religious participation may deter risky behaviors by helping adolescents develop social networks, which provide social support and reinforce widely accepted social norms.