ARDA Working Papers Series

A Monetary Valuation of Individual Religious Behavior: The Case of Prayer

Timothy T. Brown
University of California, Berkeley

The majority of the U.S. population is religious. However, individuals vary quite significantly in the degree to which their religious faith expresses itself in religious behavior. The degree to which individuals value their religious faith can be inferred from the degree to which they value their religious behavior. The value of a fundamental religious behavior, prayer, is determined using the well-being valuation method. Theoretically appropriate instrumental variables are used to avoid bias in estimating of the effects of family income and the frequency of prayer on well-being. The marginal value of an additional weekly prayer session for individuals already at the national mean is estimated to be $11,000 per annum (2004 dollars). Praying at the frequency of the national mean of 8.1 prayer sessions weekly is valued at $89,100 (2004 dollars) per annum. This suggests that the perception of communion with God is highly valued by religious individuals.

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