Religion Provides Emotional Boost to World's Poor

In low-income areas, religiosity linked to more enjoyment, less worry

A tour of the world’s most religious countries wouldn’t be all mountaintop shrines and magnificent temples – it would also take you to some pretty bleak places. Gallup Polls in 143 countries reveal that among countries were average annual incomes are $2,000 or less, 92% of residents say religion is an important part of their daily lives. By contrast, among the richest countries surveyed – those where average annual incomes are $25,000 or more – that figure drops to 44%.

Why is a population’s religiosity consistently connected to its wealth, or lack thereof? Sociologists going back to the 19th century have theorized that societies naturally grow more secular as they modernize – that is, as people begin to grow better off in terms of education and living standards, the importance they attach to religion begins to recede.

But these secularization theories have come under fire more recently for their inability to tell the whole story. Other researchers have shown that religion is in fact a powerful postive force for disadvantaged populations. In 2004, Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris used data from the World Values Survey to document a growing “religiosity gap” between developing and industrialized populations. They argued that people in the poorest socities live with much greater vulnerability to forces that threaten their existence, so they’re more likely than those in developed nations to rely on religion for hope.
Continued at: URL gallup.com/poll/116449/Religion-Provides-Emotional-Boost-World-Poor.aspx

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