Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #755

The Effect of Religiosity on Adolescent Risky Behaviors

by Silvia Mendolia, Alfredo Paloyo and Ian Walker

RWI, 07/2018, 37 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-879-0 DOI: 10.4419/86788879

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Abstract

We investigate the relationship between religiosity and risky behaviors in adolescence using data from a large and detailed cohort study of 14 year olds that have been followed for seven years. We focus on the effect of the selfreported importance of religion and on the risk of youths having early sexual intercourse, drinking underage, trying cigarettes, trying cannabis, and being involved in fighting at ages 14–17. We use school and individual fixed effects, and we control for a rich set of adolescent, school, and family characteristics, including achievements in standardized test scores at age 11, parental employment, and marital status. We also control for information on personality traits, such as work ethic, self-esteem, and external locus of control. Our results show that individuals with low religiosity are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors. This effect is robust to separate estimations for boys and girls and to the control variables used. The combination of low work ethic, low selfesteem, and low religiosity seems to have particularly detrimental effects.

JEL-Classification: I10, I12

Keywords: Health behaviors; religiosity; personality; fixed effects

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