Insecurity and Religiosity in Central America

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This article studies the relationship between material and existential insecurity and religiosity at the individual level from a comparative perspective among the adult population in six countries of Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Panamá. We use a sample of 9,000 observations from the Pew Research Center data survey from 2014 to test both material and existential insecurities and explore whether there are differences by religious affiliation in the case of Catholics and Evangelicals. We analyze the factors that promote insecurity, such as material deprivation, personal economic situation, community perception, unemployment, crime perception, exposure to war, and loss of a marital partner. We present our empirical findings through linear logistic regression analysis, considering religiosity as a dependent variable. We conclude that insecurity theory is applicable to the Central American case, as it helps to predict Evangelical growth in the region. Our analysis confirms the impact of material and existential insecurity on religiosity. Material and existential insecurity could be independent of one another and can also be experienced parallelly. Data supports the hypothesis that the highest levels of religiosity are evidenced when the individual experiences both material and existential insecurities at the same time.