Research has implicated religious activity as a health determinant, but questions remain, including whether associations persist in places where Judeo-Christian religions are not the majority; whether public versus private religious expressions have equivalent impacts, and the precise advantage expressed as years of life. This article addresses these issues in Taiwan. 3,739 Taiwanese aged 53+ were surveyed in 1999, 2003, and 2007. Mortality and disability were recorded. Religious activities in public and private settings were measured at baseline. Multistate life-tables produced estimates of total life expectancy and activity of daily living (ADL) disability-free life expectancy across levels of public and private religious activity. There is a consistent positive gradient between religious activity and expectancy with greater activity related to longer life and more years without disability. Life and ADL disability-free life expectancies for those with no religious affiliation fit in between the lowest and highest religious activity groups. Results corroborate evidence in the West. Mechanisms that intervene may be similar in Eastern religions despite differences in the ways in which popular religions are practiced. Results for those with no affiliation suggest benefits of religion can be accrued in alternate ways.
- Journal Article