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Religious Meaning and Subjective Well-Being in Late Life

Publication Abstract

Krause, Neal. 2003. "Religious Meaning and Subjective Well-Being in Late Life." Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 58(3): S160-S170.

Objectives. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between religious meaning and subjective well-being. A major emphasis is placed on assessing race differences in the relationship between these constructs. Methods. Interviews were conducted with a nationwide sample of older White and older Black adults. Survey items were administered to assess a sense of meaning in life that is derived specifically from religion. Subjective well-being was measured with indices of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and optimism.Results. The findings suggest that older adults who derive a sense of meaning in life from religion tend to have higher levels of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and optimism. The data further reveal that older Black adults are more likely to find meaning in religion than older White adults. In addition, the relationships among religious meaning, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and optimism tend to be stronger for older African Americans persons than older White persons. Discussion. Researchers have argued for some time that religion may be an important source of resilience for older Black adults, but it is not clear how these beneficial effects arise. The data from this study suggest that religious meaning may be an important factor.

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