Using multivariate regression analyses, and controlling for key background factors (including gender, age, race, region, parent marital status, parent education, and family income), the authors find that more religious teenagers (e.g., the devoteds and regulars) have more positive outcomes in the areas examined. Findings are consistent across socioeconomic groups. Key findings for the general youth population are described in Table 4-1. While Smith and Denton (2005) do not establish causality in their analyses, they highlight the striking consistency with which religiosity is positively associated with the wide range of outcomes examined.
|More Religious Teenagers Have More Positive Outcomes in These Areas:|
Smith and Denton (2005) provide initial evidence about why religious teenagers have better life outcomes (see Table 4-2). Preliminary evidence suggests that quality of parent-child relationships, network closure, and religious practices could be important pathways for how religiosity influences youth outcomes. These pathways, however, are not formally tested in their statistical models.
|Areas in Which More Religious Teenagers Have More Positive Outcomes:|
Taken in combination, these findings highlight the need to understand whether it is the institutional or the indirect/personalized aspects of religion that more likely mediate religious effects in youths. This remains an open research question that requires further empirical testing.