Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
Debt, Religion, and Life Satisfaction
Research shows that most Americans identify with some religious tradition, likely making religious belief an important aspect of life for many clients. Additionally, research has shown that non-financial factors (such as religious beliefs) can influence client behavior, and that practitioners spend a noteworthy amount of time discussing such non-financial issues with clients. Thus, we braved the taboo associated with religion to explore religious factors as a resource for coping with indebtedness. We focus on debt, given its association with financial stress. Since it can take a considerable amount of time to pay-off debt, clients need ways of coping with debt while working with a practitioner to improve their financial position. We used a sample extracted from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine the relationship between household debt and life satisfaction, and tested for stress-buffering (i.e., moderation) from religiosity and prayer frequency across subsamples stratified by self-identified religious preference. Results suggest that prayer frequency moderates the negative association between debt and life satisfaction for Protestant Christians. Implications for practice (particularly faith-based providers of financial counseling) and recommendations for future research are discussed.