Happiness Levels

Ross has a typically thoughtful post responding to Wilkinson:

[Will Wilkinson] points out that the religion-happiness correlation seems to be America-specific, and that the advance of secularization in Western Europe has coincided with an increase in levels of reported happiness on the continent...my suspicion is that the difference has something to do with the role of the welfare state as well - that the benefits of belonging to a religious community are greater in the U.S. than in Europe in part because our welfare state is smaller, and religious participation provides both tangible and intangible forms of security that are more valuable in a society where the free market is more freewheeling and the welfare state weaker. If you're a Christian who prefers the American model, you might say that the Europeans use government as a substitute for God; if you prefer Europe's path to modernity, you'd probably say something about Americans clinging to churchgoing because it's the only protection available against the harsh brutality of our jungle capitalism.