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January 30, 2004

Praise God & pass the dollar

Research Around the World Links Religion to Economic Development. I need to read this paper they published before I comment, but there's part of what they say....

"This is a revised view of the Protestant ethic," he continued. He noted that many mostly Protestant, wealthy countries were now more interested in quality of life, and that many Eastern countries were now more focused on economic growth with some populations even converting, as Mr. Barro noted, to Christianity and specifically to Protestantism.

"Confucian countries are now the most Protestant countries on earth, in terms of a moral imperative to work hard, save money, to do well," Mr. Inglehart said.

One of the researchers works at The Hoover Institute. Has anyone found any evidence that a right-wing American think-tank in the past generation has published anything unflattering toward religion?

Update: Here is an abstract of a previous paper published by the authors on this topic. Note:

Barro and McCleary suggest that higher rates of religious beliefs stimulate growth because they help to sustain aspects of individual behavior that enhance productivity. They believe that higher church attendance depresses growth because it signifies a greater use of resources by the religion sector. However, that suppression of growth is tempered by the extent to which church attendance leads to greater religious beliefs, which in turn encourages economic growth.

Yeah, OK....

Update II: OK, here's the some papers in PDF by these two. Will comment in extended entry later....

Godless comments:

This is why sociology is to social science as astrology is to astronomy. Culture is important, but you can't study humans while entirely neglecting human biology. Instead of copious regressions, contradictory conclusions, and Thernstromian circomlocution about "Confucian Protestantism", GNXP invites you to consider a more parsimonious hypothesis: a strongly negative religiosity-IQ correlation:

coupled with a strongly positive IQ-GDP correlation:

Note: (Figure 2. Per capita GDP by racial group. "White" here means European white; "East Asian" means the racially homogenous polities: Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan. ) [Godless notes: The above graph has several incorrect values. The GDP-per-capita for Taiwan and South Korea is substantially higher than has been indicated, and Singapore has been excluded. I will do a reproduction of this graph with 2002 GDP-per-capita data soon.]

One doesn't need any "Confucian Protestants" or bizarre separations between church-attendance and religious belief to explain the GDP data. This pair of researchers seems cast in the Thernstrom mould: resolutely anti-biological explanations of phenomena that must - in part - be viewed through the lens of h-bd.

Posted by razib at 08:33 PM