Jing Shen, Irena Kogan
Does the religious context matter? The causal effect of religious diversity on individual life satisfaction in the UK

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2020: 46, issue 17, pp. 3722-3743
ISSN: 1369-183X (print), 1469-9451 (online)

This study explores whether and to what extent the change in individual life satisfaction is caused by exposure to a changing religious context. Empirical evidence is from UK society, where the decline in Christian population is accompanied by increases in both Muslim and non-religious populations. By linking the UK Household Longitudinal Study with geographic codes at the Local Authority level between 2009 and 2016, we estimate the relationship between a religious context and life satisfaction for groups of Christians, individuals with minority religions, and the non-religious, respectively. By comparing fixed-effect modelling exclusively on stayers with multilevel modelling on the whole sample, we argue that although observed associations are largely consistent with widely accepted assumptions, most of them do not pass the test for causality under stricter conditions. The only significant relationship in FE modelling is a negative effect of Muslim exposure on life satisfaction of non-religious, mainly white British individuals.