(ReclaimingAmerica.net) – New research has found that the decline in religious practice may be a significant cause for the growing number of “deaths of despair” among middle-aged white Americans.
A research paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit, looked into middle-aged white Americans’ suicides and deaths from alcohol and drug abuse which have skyrocketed since the early 1990s.
It established that the causes of the “deaths of despair” in that demographic seem to be the “aftermath” of its “declining religiosity” during that period, Breitbart News reported.
According to economists Tyler Giles, Daniel Hungerman, and Tamar Oostrom, their findings “confirm that religious practice has significant effects on these mortality rates” in the United States.
“Our findings show that social factors such as organized religion can play an important role in understanding deaths of despair,” the authors wrote.
The researchers considered the impact of “blue laws,” – which banned some activities on certain days for religious reasons and are also known as “Sunday closing laws.”
They found that repealing such regulations sparked a quick decline in church attendance alongside increased secularization.
Giles, Hungerman, and Oostrom argued that the ending of blue laws caused secularization – contrary to the conventional wisdom that a community’s secularization leads to the termination of its Sunday closing laws.
The group of economists considered, in particular, the consequences of blue laws not related to the former bans on Sunday alcohol sales.
They found that beginning in the early 1990s, in the wake of blue law repeals, “the most religious states experienced the lowest mortality due to deaths of despair.”
However, “states that had larger drops in religious attendance had larger increases in deaths of despair.”
The report noted that if a person stops going to church, they lose not only a connection to God and moral grounding but also a “sense of community.”
That may be especially true for the United States, where churches have been the cornerstones of civil society and communities, as well as places to establish friendships, meet future spouses, and grow a sense of care for others and duty to society.
“Religious practice is heavily linked to finding meaning in life, the happiest, most stable marriages, and personal and familial well-being,” the Breitbart report emphasized.
It added that, according to studies, people and families practicing religion in church and at home exhibited the “highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction.”
The rise in “deaths of despair” among middle-aged white Americans may be linked to the decline in religious practice, according to new research. https://t.co/7LIGSqUINt
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 24, 2023