The Gallup Poll in the United States released their latest study this week on the state of wellbeing across Americans of various faith. Jews, the study found, have the highest wellbeing, overall. The second group are the non-religious.
Does this mean more Americans will give up on their red bracelets, Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism and flock to normative synagogues? Is it the result of some secret ingredient founds in chicken soup or matzah?
“Very religious Americans of all major faiths — and even those who do not have a formal religious identity — have higher overall wellbeing than do their respective counterparts who are moderately religious or nonreligious,” according to the study’s analysis of interviews with 372,000 Americans, of whom 5,788 of identified as Jewish.
Americans’ degrees of religiousness, as defined in this analysis, are based on responses to two questions asking about the importance of religion and church attendance.
Jews have the highest wellbeing of any of the faith groups examined in the analysis, while Protestants have the lowest overall wellbeing. Jews score particularly high on the Life Evaluation and Basic Access sub-indexes. Protestants, on the other hand, score lowest on the Life Evaluation Index and among the lowest on the Healthy Behaviors Index. Religious Intensity was the greatest for Mormons (LDS), and the lowest for those identifying with the Jewish faith
74.6% of Mormons identified as “very religious.” Protestants, Muslims, and Roman Catholics were next in order of religiousness (although the values were under 50%). Only 15.9% of Jews were classified as “very religious.”
While the study might make for good blogging copy, the difference in the well being index was not that wide a gap, in my opinion. Very religious (synagogue attending) Jews scored 71.2; non religious Jews scored 68.4; very religious Muslims scored 67.9; non religious Roman Catholics scored 65.5; and moderately religious Protestants scored 63.1. Are eight points that significant when it comes to Happiness and Well being?
Jews scored highest in the Life Evaluation Index (57.5); the Healthy Behaviors Index (66.2), and the Basic Access Index Index (88.0). Catholics and Athiests scored slightly higher than Jews on the Emotional Health Index; Jews were second only to Mormons in their Work Environment Index scores; and second only to Muslims in their Physical Health Index score, which is shocking, since most Jewish people I know enjoy discussing their physical ailments,… but just not to Gallup pollsters, I suppose.