Wealth and religion

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Importance of religion and GDP per capita in the world. Religion is negatively correlated with wealth.
A chart illustrating income by religious group in the U.S. in 2001.

The correlation of wealth and religion has been subject to academic research. Wealth is the status of being the beneficiary or proprietor of a large accumulation of capital and economic power. Religion is a cultural system that often involves belief in supernatural forces and may intend to provide a moral system or a meaning of life.

The GDP of countries generally correlates negatively with their religiosity, i.e. the wealthier a population is the less religious it is.[1]


According to a study from 2015, Christians holds the largest amount of wealth (55% of the total world wealth), followed by Muslims (5.8%) and Hindus (3.3%) and Jewish (1.1%). According to the same study found that adherents under the classification Irreligion or other religions holds about 34.8% of the total global wealth.[2]

A study in the United States, published in the Social Forces journal and conducted by Sociology researcher Lisa A. Keister, found that adherents of Judaism and Episcopalianism[3] attained the most wealth, believers of Catholicism and mainline Protestants were in the middle, while conservative Protestants accumulated the least wealth, while in general people who attend religious services achieved more wealth than those who do not (taking into account variations of education and other factors).[4] The researcher suggests that wealth accumulation is shaped by family processes.[5]

In the United States, 48% of Hindus have a household income of $100,000 or more, and 70% make at least $75,000, which is the highest among all religions in United States.[6] The median net worth of people believing in Judaism is calculated at 150,890 USD, while the median net worth of conservative Protestants (including Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian Scientists) was found at 26,200 USD. The overall median in the dataset was 48,200 USD.[4]


A study published in the American Journal of Sociology by Lisa Keister, found that "religion affects wealth indirectly through educational attainment, fertility, and female labor force participation" but also found some evidence of direct effects of religion on wealth attainment.[7] Keister notes that certain religious beliefs ("one should have many children", "women should not work") lower wealth accumulation, both on the micro- and macro-scale.[7][8]

Religious beliefs of the wealthy[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Survey Reports. "World Publics Welcome Global Trade — But Not Immigration | Pew Global Attitudes Project". Pewglobal.org. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  2. ^ "Christians hold largest percentage of global wealth: Report". deccanherald.com. 2015-01-14. 
  3. ^ Irving Lewis Allen, "WASP—From Sociological Concept to Epithet," Ethnicity, 1975 154+
  4. ^ a b "Religion Helps Shape Wealth Of Americans, Study Finds". Researchnews.osu.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  5. ^ "Religion and wealth: The role of religious affiliation and participation in early adult asset accumulation = Religion et richesse: le rôle de l'affiliation et de la participation religieuse dans l'accumulation de biens à l'entrée de la vie adulte". Cat.inist.fr. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  6. ^ "Hindu-Americans Rank Top in Education, Income". Retrieved Dec 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Keister, Lisa A. (March 2008). "Conservative Protestants and Wealth: How Religion Perpetuates Asset Poverty". American Journal of Sociology 113 (5): 1237–1271. doi:10.1086/525506. 
  8. ^ "How Religion Contributes To Wealth And Poverty". The Huffington Post. 
  9. ^ "Warren Buffett "Agnostic," Bill Gates Rejects Sermon On The Mount, Not "Huge Believer" In "Specific Elements" Of Christianity". American View. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
  10. ^ "Bill Gates". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  11. ^ "Carlos Slim Helu - Trade by Numbers®". Magazine.globeinvestor.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  12. ^ "Warren Buffett". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  13. ^ "Wired 14.11: Faces of the New Atheism: The Scribe". Wired.com. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  14. ^ "The Business of religion". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  15. ^ "Being Bernard Arnault". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  16. ^ "The Atlantic Times :: Archive". atlantic-times.com. 
  17. ^ Hall, Allan; Ledwith, Mario (2012-12-07). "Secretive Aldi family announce death of main heir to £11billion supermarket fortune... a month after he was buried". Daily Mail (London). 
  18. ^ Boggan, Steve (2010-05-21). "The billionaire Facebook founder making a fortune from your secrets (though you probably don't know he's doing it)". Daily Mail (London). 
  19. ^ http://www.islamicstudies.harvard.edu/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

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