Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Faith or Social Foci? Happiness, Religion, and Social Networks in Sweden

  • Christofer Edling
  • Jens Rydgren
  • Love Bohman
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 615-626
Publication/Series: European Sociological Review
Volume: 30
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Additional info: First published online 07 August 2014.

Abstract english

In this article, we study 19-year-olds in Sweden (n = 2,942) with and without an immigration background (Iran, Yugoslavia, and Sweden). We follow-up on a recent study, which shows that religion and happiness tend to be positively associated at the individual level only in countries with high aggregate levels of religiosity and proposes that what affects happiness is not religiosity per se but conformity to the standard in one’s country. We take these results a step further and study the relationship between religion and happiness across immigrant groups that have significantly different experiences of religion. Are we more likely to find a positive association between religion and happiness among young Swedes with parents born in Iran and Yugoslavia than among those with two Sweden-born parents? And do these associations depend on their sense of affiliation with Sweden? We argue that there are strong theoretical reasons to assume that previous results also apply to the observed association between religious networks and happiness, and we study to what extent previous results can be generalized to societies like Sweden, which has a very low aggregate level of religiosity, and whether that effect differs by immigration background. The results show that religion and religiousness per se have little impact on happiness. In particular, we find that social networks tend to be positively associated with happiness, and that this effect is driven by co-organizational membership among friends.


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Social networks
  • happiness
  • religion


  • ISSN: 0266-7215
Christofer Edling
E-mail: christofer [dot] edling [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se


Faculty of Social Sciences

+46 46 222 88 62



Centre for Economic Demography




+46 46 222 88 62




I earned my PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2005 I was Torgny Segerstedt Pro Futura Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study at Uppsala University. I received my Docent-title in 2003, and was appointed Associate Professor at Stockholm University in 2004. From 2006 to 2008 I was Head of the Department of Sociology at Stockholm university. Before coming to Lund in 2012 I served as Full Professor of Sociology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. I have been a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004/05) and Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2013).

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences