Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Relgion and global wealth


Here's an interesting table from a Pew study (and found in this article). This graph shows a strong linear trend such that the richer the country, the less importance its citizens place on religion except for--you guessed it--the U.S.

In terms of religious importance, we're pretty much middle-of-the-pack among the countries that they studied, but we're very high for our high economic level.

Any thoughts about why?


6 comments:

Corey said...

Spurious association. Examine the far right side of the graph: All but Japan are part of the European diaspora. I'm not an economist, but I believe that capital accumulation and investment started in Europe and spread through these colonies. Ironically, most of these countries were the ones Weber discussed in the Protestant ethic.

On the left side of the graph you have historically export economy and former soviet bloc nations where there were good structural reasons not to invest in capital.

James King said...

This is interesting but what is more interesting is despite the respondents indicating that they don't view religion as important these countries have a high percentage of Christians or have economies heavily influenced by the United States.

http://morequestions.org/2008/10/01/religion-and-global-wealth/

Nate Loucks said...

If this association is correct and more wealth = less religion, it brings to light what Jesus said in Matthew 19:23-24.

Sid said...

I hate it when people like Nate are right :)

amoslanka said...

this graph surprises me in only one way, and that is of course that the US is somehow way out there as an outlier. crazy

Brad Wright said...

Corey, I'm not sure I follow your comment (forgive my density)...

James, that's a really interesting point, that self-reported importance of religion is different than religious behavior. It would be interesting to look at the relationship between attitudes and behavior as they vary across nations.

Nate and Sid... I hadn't thought about it, but you're right, this would fit squarely with the gospel.

Amoslanka, the U.S. is certainly an outlier in this, as well as other things (e.g., guns and prison).