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January 01, 2008


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Tejvan Pettinger

I wonder whether it is declining income that encourages religiosity or whether it is the other way round. Or it could just be a coincidence


There are obviously quite a few confounding variables here. I don't think there is a causal link between the two in either direction, just an illuminating correlation. For one, I would guess education is probably the biggest confound. Higher education rates have an adverse effect on religiosity and probably a positive effect on GDP.

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i think it is definitely the income that shows the decline.

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I think With data aggregated at the state level, conservative religious beliefs strongly predict U.S. teen birth rates, in a relationship that does not appear to be the result of confounding by income or abortion rates. One possible explanation for this relationship is that teens in more religious communities may be less likely to use contraception.

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David noticed this article by Dan Mitchell reporting the well-known fact that people in richer countries tend to be less religious. What about states in the U.S.? We (that is, David Park, Joe Bafumi, Boris Shor, and I) look at it two ways.

First, here's a scatterplot of the 50 states, plotting average religious attendance vs. average income. (Religious attendance is on a -2 to 2 scale, from "never" to "more than once a week," and average income was originally in dollars but has been rescaled to be centered at zero.):

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