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Research suggests religious children are more likely to be academically successful

by Alex Collett

An American Jewish author has written a book, following new research, which suggests children and teenagers who practice a faith, are more likely to have academic success.

Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Sociology, Ilana Horwitz, PhD, has written a book called 'God, Grades and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success.'

Based on research, it suggests ‘highly religious teens’ want to honour God in all that they do, including in their academic studies.

Ilana said: “It does seem to have a strong influence, because the kinds of kids in America who grow up intensely religious - and I mean intensely Christian here - are incredibly conscientious and cooperative.

“They grow up being really good at rule following, they learn to abide by authority early on in life, they learn to be really kind to others and those particular dispositions align very well, with the way that US systems have designed our schools.

“Because a religion isn't necessarily going to make kids better on the soccer field or in drama class.

“But there's something about our school setting that makes those kinds of dispositions that religious kids have really salient and beneficial.

“If you believe that God is watching you and evaluating whether you go to Heaven, you’re going to try to be a conscientious, cooperative kid in all domains of your life.”

Ilana carried out her research based on nationally representative survey data, as well as interview data.

She carried out a secondary analysis of data that had already been collected by a group of researchers out of Notre Dame.

They followed 3290 American teenagers from 2003 to 2012 - a 10 year study surveying 3000 adolescents, about four times.

Of the 3,000, 220 participants were repeatedly interviewed throughout the decade-long study.

The data from the survey helped Ilana establish these broad-scale generalisations.

She said: “It was really in the interview data that I was able to hear the stories and try to understand the mechanisms by which those relationships happen.

“Why is it that kids who grow up intensely religious go on to, as I find, earn, on average, better grades, and complete more years of education?”

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