« A New Cognitive Elite? | Gene Expression Front Page | Minor feature »
February 04, 2004

Religious Koreans aren't stupid!

My Christmas Eve post which plotted religion vs. national IQ kind of developed a life of its own. But within broader patterns there are details that are missed. For instance, this article documents the rise in religious affiliation in South Korea in the post-war period, and the correlation of Christian affiliation with higher socioeconomic status and educational attainment. A 1997 Gallup Poll in South Korea showed that:
1) Christians are far more likely to believe in "miracles," God" and other supernatural entities and processes than Buddhists or the non-affiliated South Koreans[1].
2) Christians are more well educated than other Koreans & more likely to be middle to upper middle class.

It would follow that if religious belief has a positive correlation with education & income, it is likely IQ also does if it covaries with education & income, at least in South Korea[2]. Also, it might interest readers to note that Roman Catholicism in particular is an upper to upper middle class religion in the Korean context (and tends to be associated with "progressive" political views), while Protestantism tends to correlate more with a modest middle class status.

I point this out because South Korea is one of those countries with individuals of high IQ and low religious sentiment (though Americans have a stereotype of South Koreans as very religious Christians because of Korean Americans, only 1 out of 4 are Protestant or Roman Catholic).

fn1. Though one might wonder how many "non-religious" Koreans accept fortune telling and astrology, beliefs that were not included in the survey, and so might mask the tendency toward irrationalism in people who are without religious affiliation.

fn2. Within the "Christian" affiliation there is obviously a range of beliefs, and it is sociologically documented that high status individuals with weak religious motivations often attend establishment religious services as a signal of their high standing in the community. It could be possible that within the Christian population of Korea the most well educated tend to have the least conservative religious views (this is often found cross-culturally). Also, please note that the same Gallup Poll found Christian South Koreans were more socially progressive on issues such as family and the rights of women than Buddhists or non-religious South Koreans.

Posted by razib at 05:16 PM