Ethics Countries with higher GDP per capita less likely to link belief in God to morality


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The Pew Research Center has published a new global survey named The Global God Divide, in which they investigate whether people agree whether there is the connection between belief in God and morality in 34 countries.

The findings reveal a clear correlation between GDP per capita and the association of morality with belief in god. Wealthier people are less likely to rely on religion for moral guidance. A few countries are considerably more religious than their GDP per capita suggests. That is especially the case for the USA and Turkey. It's not surprising for Americans considering that 20% of the annual income is monopolised by the top 1% wealthiest individuals. If we exclude the top 1%, the US GDP per capita at PPP in 2019 falls from $67,000 to $53,000 (between Canada and Australia), which brings the US dot in between South Korea and Germany on the graph below.


The survey also confirms something that has been known for quite a while, namely that belief in god decreases with education.


Belief in a higher power and religiosity have generally decreased over the last 30 years. Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria are the most notable exception, but that was to be expected as these countries were under a Communist regime until 1990 that actively repressed religion. As they remained relatively poor compared to other Eastern Bloc nations, it's normal to see people there seeking solace in religion.


Four years ago I posted that other stats from Pew Research that showed that lack of religious affiliation in the United States had soared from a mere 5% in 1972 and still 10% in 1995 to 23% in 2014. The new survey does not mention religious affiliation per se, but asks about the importance of religion in one's life. If we consider that those who said that it was not at all important or not very important are religiously unaffiliated, then 29% of Americans can now be considered not religious. That's +6% in 6 years - just one percent more every year. But it's still very low by Western standards. Only Polish and Greek people are more religious. Over 50% of Europeans, Canadians and Australians don't care about religion. In Sweden, the only Nordic country polled, 78% of respondents are not religious. It's 72% in Czechia, 66% in France and 60% in the UK and the Netherlands.


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