Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wealth and Religiosity -- by Country

The Pew Global Attitudes Survey results are out, with data from 47 nations. Topics include the economic globalization, immigration, religion and social issues, and views on democracy. You can guess which topic caught my interest, but the graph at the left gives it away.

From the report summary: "Global publics are sharply divided over the relationship between religion and morality. In much of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, there is a strong consensus that belief in God is necessary for morality and good values. Throughout much of Europe, however, majorities think morality is achievable without faith. Meanwhile, opinions are more mixed in the Americas, including in the United States, where 57% say that one must believe in God to have good values and be moral, while 41% disagree."

The graph also shows that there are outliers, like Kuwait and the U.S. Garry Wills talks about the anomaly of the U.S.'s religiosity in comparison with the rest of Western Culture in his latest book Head and Heart:American Christianities (which I highly recommend if you are interested in the religious history of the founding of the U.S. and how it has affected politics today, in particular the current Administration).

Again, from the report summary: "The survey finds a strong relationship between a country's religiosity and its economic status. In poorer nations, religion remains central to the lives of individuals, while secular perspectives are more common in richer nations (1). This relationship generally is consistent across regions and countries, although there are some exceptions, including most notably the United States, which is a much more religious country than its level of prosperity would indicate. Other nations deviate from the pattern as well, including the oil-rich, predominantly Muslim -- and very religious -- kingdom of Kuwait."

A footnote at the bottom of the page shares the Pew's methodology on how religiosity was calculated: "(1) Religiosity is measured using a three-item index ranging from 0-3, with "3" representing the most religious position. Respondents were given a "1" if they believe faith in God is necessary for morality; a "1" if they say religion is very important in their lives; and a "1" if they pray at least once a day."

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