Life Satisfaction in South Africa: Socioeconomic Hardships, Religiousness and Social Involvement




Omar, Raege Lukman

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Over the past few decades, empirical sociological research rigorously studied the relationship between religion and numerous outcomes of life including various dimensions of subjective wellbeing such as life satisfaction. However, there is paucity of research which examines the hypothesis in a context of widespread relative material deprivation. This study investigated whether religiousness ameliorates the effects of economic distress associated with experiencing social insecurity and economic hardship in a sample of respondents in South Africa. In addition, the study extends the research on the link between religiousness and subjective wellbeing by examining the role of social involvement as a resource to buffer the effects of social stress. The data comes from a random probability sample (n=3531) in the World Values Survey (South Africa, 2013 – WVS wave 6). Ordinary Least Square results suggest that (a) family economic hardship and neighborhood disadvantages are inversely associated with life satisfaction, (b) that facets of non-organizational religious engagement showed offsetting effects against stressors, (c) the two-way interactions reveal only social involvement buffered against stressors. While evaluating the well-researched stress process hypothesis, this study will have potential implications to shed some light if contextual differences influence the buffering religious effects against socio-economic distress.


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Financial Strain, Life Satisfaction, Neighborhood Disadvantages, Religion, Social Involvement