Religious people are better able to cope with shocks such as losing a job or divorce, claims the study presented to a Royal Economic Society conference.
Data from thousands of Europeans revealed higher levels of “life satisfaction” in believers.
However, researcher Professor Andrew Clark said other aspects of a religious upbringing unrelated to belief may influence future happiness.
This is not the first study to draw links between religion and happiness, with a belief among many psychologists that some factor in either belief, or its observance, offering benefits.
Professor Clark, from the Paris School of Economics, and co-author Dr Orsolya Lelkes from the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, used information from household surveys to analyse the attitudes of Christians – both Catholic and Protestant – not only to their own happiness, but also to issues such as unemployment.
Their findings, they said, suggested that religion could offer a “buffer” which protected from life’s disappointments.
Professor Clark said: “We originally started the research to work out why some European countries had more generous unemployment benefits than others, but our analysis suggested that religious people suffered less psychological harm from unemployment than the non-religious.
“They had higher levels of life satisfaction”.