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Does Religion Ease the Burden of Poverty?

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Does Religion Ease the Burden of Poverty?

Institute for Family Studies October 4, 2021
OtherCulture & Society
EconomicsOther

A common, and reasonable, assumption is that poverty makes people unhappy. One of the puzzles in international economics is the connection between this relationship—the correlation between socioeconomic status and personal well-being—and the general level of wealth in a society as a whole. Social scientists have observed that as countries get richer, socioeconomic status is more strongly correlated with well-being, i.e. being poor more strongly predicts feeling bad in poor countries than rich ones.

A new paper, authored by an ocean-spanning group of social science researchers, and published in PNAS, offers a suggested solution to this paradox: poorer societies are more religious, and the effects of national religiosity lessen the effects of poverty on well-being.

“It is not a nation’s economic development per se that alters the psychological burden of lower SES, but a tremendously important covariate of it— national religiosity,” the authors write. “Eminent thinkers, from Voltaire to Durkheim, have pointed to the role of religion in creating and maintaining norm-abiding groups. The resulting social norms hold prominent positions in theories of the emergence and perpetuation of culture and, ultimately, human evolution.”

Continue reading the entire piece here at Institute for Family Studies

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Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.

Photo by AlbertPego/iStock

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