Religiosity vs Poverty and Education

This is from Quora. The USA is a real outlier, but in general the poorer a country is, the more religious its people are, and vice versa; also, the more education, the less religiosity.

Q: Have countries that have learned towards atheism failed more than countries that have acknowledged God?

A: Let’s check.

The table below has the ten most and least religious countries according to Gallup, followed by how many think religion is important, followed by GDP per capita according to IMF.

1: Estonia: religious score 16%, GDP/capita $22,990

2: Sweden: religious score 17%, GDP/capita $53,873

3: Denmark: religious score 19%, GDP/capita $60,692

4: Norway: religious score 21%, GDP/capita $81,695

5: Czech republic: religious score 21%, GDP/capita $22,850

6: Japan: religious score 24%, GDP/capita $39,306

7: Hong Kong: religious score 24%, GDP/capita $48,517

8: United Kingdom: religious score 27%, GDP/capita $42,558

9: Finland: religious score 28%, GDP/capita $42,878

10: Vietnam: religious score 30%, GDP/capita $2,551


149: Djibouti: religious score 98%, GDP/capita $2,085

150: Mauritania: religious score 98%, GDP/capita $1,143

151: Sri Lanka: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $4,068

152: Malawi: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $351

153: Indonesia: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $3,871

154: Yemen: religious score 99%, GDP/capita $872

155: Niger: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $477

156: Ethiopia: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $853

157: Somalia: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $499*

158. Bangladesh: religious score 100%, GDP/capita $1,745

*Not in IMF’s dataset; World Bank used instead.

But that data isn’t very intuitive. Sure, there’s at least a factor 10 difference between the least religious countries and the most religious countries, but how can we illustrate it more clearly? Well, how about a graph:

Although Pew chose to highlight the US and its strong outlier as a wealthy nation with high religiosity, the interesting thing is the inverse correlation between GDP/capita and religiosity. It really seems to imply that in general, success and irreligion are connected.

But how? In the same dataset, Pew also makes another important observation, namely of education.

This correlation is much stronger. And we already know that education and wealth are strongly correlated.

But it’s not quite that simple. Pew makes yet another observation, of income inequality and religion:

But what we can take away from this is that the poorer a country is, and the greater the income inequality is, and the poorer educated a country is, the more religious it is in general.

Or expressed even more bluntly: shithole country ≈ religious country.


Importance of religion by country – Wikipedia

List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita – Wikipedia

Religious observance by age and country

Published in: on January 10, 2020 at 9:31 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The poor have little choice. Without little power, they suffer a lot, and their only escape is by praying that the “merciful” god they believe in will save them or at least accept them into “heaven” when they die so they do not have to suffer anymore.


  2. I suspect that the graph of lottery playing vs GDP would be just like the prayers vs GDP graph: another means of seeking divine intervention.


  3. If life is good, what do you need God for?


    • Hmm, needing God is up to the individual even if life is good
      . Some people “need” that connection. Other’s don’t. Go figure.


      • Just an observation that the more people have, the less religious they seem to be. I felt like the charts were suggesting that religious people are likely to be poor because they rely on that belief. Rather than seeing poverty as an indictment of belief in a higher power, I was suggesting that wealthier people are more likely to feel there is no need for a god. They don’t feel the need to rely on anything other than themselves.


      • I agree. In fact, the more wealth and power they have means they also have a god complex and anyone that thinks they are a god is competition with God.

        #1 of the 10 Commandments says:

        “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.”

        Now we know the context behind that commandment.

        To add more context to #1, there is also this sample:

        Timothy 6:9 For those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desired that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

        Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

        Corinthians 6:10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And you don’t even have to be religious to see the moral truth behind these passages.


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