Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Data Sources and Methods Used in Religiosity Research Targeting the Low-Income Population

07/10/2009

Distinguishing a correlational relationship from a causal relationship for religiosity and positive behaviors is not a straightforward endeavor, as there are several methodological challenges to address. One of the primary challenges of conducting research in this area is limited national data collection. That is, there are an insufficient number of data sets containing a comprehensive set of measures of organizational religiosity and individual religious beliefs, behavioral outcomes, and detailed income measures. Even the Decennial Census of the U.S. population does not include basic questions about religion. To date, data sets that include detailed religiosity measures generally have smaller sample sizes. Even studies that include detailed religiosity measures have limitations. For example, non-Christian religious traditions are often underrepresented, and measures of religiosity are typically not specific to particular religious beliefs or religious institutions. Therefore, the lack of data limits the types of research that can be conducted to help guide policy development in this area.

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