Monday, February 15, 2010

Wealth and religion across nations



The Pew Foundation published a report that had this very interesting table in it.  It displays the relationship between the wealth of nations and how religious they are.  It demonstrates how unique the US is, in that we're fairly religious for our level of wealth.

Again, as per last week's post on the ecological fallacy, this doesn't mean that there is a negative correlation between religion and wealth between individuals, but still it's an interesting pattern.

Any thoughts as to why?




Thank you Carson!

9 comments:

Jay Livingston said...

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber sees religiosity as one of a cluster of qualities that correlate with the desire for world domination:

“Almost every state of any significance in history has aspired to dominate its known world. . . .. Religiosity, militarism, inequality, and governments that do little for their subjects are the norm rather than the exception. . . .

“The real exception to all of this is Europe. The largest economic aggregate in world history, it has enough military power to repel any invader, but is deeply uninterested in using this power to any more glorious end. . . .In all of history, it would be hard to find anything comparable in terms of pacifism, godlessness, equality, leisure for the masses or public provision of services.”

Mark said...

I'm not sure I could possibly disagree with John Quiggin more than with his misguided theories about Europe. Europe caused the last two world wars because of their arrogance and greed. The only reason they are not a threat today is because of NATO which is an American invention. If it wasn't for the USA, Europe would still have petty dictators trying to stuff each other into gas chambers. From a military/world domination standpoint here is nothing good about Europe. If left to their own devices they would cut your throat the minute you turned your back on them if it wasn't for NATO.

I believe its America's strong constitutional separation of church and state that allows it to prosper. Sure, the opinion polls might show the USA has a high religiosity nation but the American legal system is strictly secular which is the way it should be. Over its entire 234 year history, America has always been a beacon to the world on how a nation should be and I'm proud to be a part of it.

People from all over the world have been and are still today risking their lives to get here and that says a lot.

Jay Livingston said...

All of what Mark says about Europe today (if not for the US, they'd be ruled by murderous dictators and would cut your throat) is impossible to disprove or prove, at least until the US withdraws from NATO. Quiggin's statements, by contrast, are empirically testable. I'm curious as to which of his assertions are "misguided" and what the contradictory evidence is.

Brad Wright said...

I'm not sure that I share Quiggin's enthusiasm for Europe as Utopia. In the last century, it seems that they've had their share of genocides and colonization.

I wouldn't necessary link their recent upswing to the USA, but it's not clear that they are a model to hold up.

Jay Livingston said...

Brad, From the qualities Quiggin lists (pacifism, godlessness, equality, leisure for the masses or public provision of services), I assume he's talking about Europe since 1945.

Brad Wright said...

That still leaves colonization in Africa and the French in Indochina.

Getting close to selecting on the dependent variable...

David Weakliem said...

The colonization of Africa took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The decolonization of the 1950s(more or less voluntary) is very unusual (maybe unique?) in world history. So I think Quiggin is right that post-1945 Europe is unusual. But I'm not sure about the claim that religiosity is a common characteristic of aggressive states throughout history. Rome, pre-revolutionary China, early 20th century Japan--I don't think any of those would rank high in religiosity as usually measured.

John Quiggin said...

Coming in very late, I didn't assert that these characteristics were correlated, except in the sense that they have been all the norm rather than the exception, and that post-1945 Europe doesn't display any of them.

For example, historically, most wars have been started by religious believers, but only because most people (and in particular, most national leaders) have been believers. I don't have any evidence to suggest that non-believers in general are more pacific or egalitarian.

Tom Rees said...

I suspect that personal insecurity (linked to income inequality) has something to do with it. I did some analyses, published in the Journal of Religion and Society (see blog post here) on the link to prayer frequency, and other research (see here) has shown a link to Church attendance.