Religious participation, congregations and poverty: a multilevel analysis

Depending from the degree of involvement in the religious life of congregations, individuals have access to information and support for basic needs that can help the poor to ameliorate their situations. In this paper, we use U.S. data and a multi-level approach to show that churchgoers who actively participate in the religious life of congregations have lower probabilities of experiencing poverty than individuals who participate less frequently and less energetically. As explanation, we argue that active participation promote social interactions and social capital accumulation leading, at the end, to a lower in the risk of poverty. We also demonstrate that congregations are active players able to implement strategies influencing the probability that members experience poverty.