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.

There has been some research on the correlation of wealth and religion. 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.

A study in the United States, conducted by sociology researcher Lisa A. Keister, and published in the journal Social Forces, found that adherents of Judaism and Episcopalianism[1] 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).[2] The researcher suggests that wealth accumulation is shaped by family processes.[3]

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.[2] The overall median in the dataset was 48,200 USD. While the Episcopalians tend to be considerably wealthier and better educated than most other religious groups in Americans.[4][5]

Another 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.[6]

Wealth and atheism[edit]

Some studies have found correlations between wealth and lack of religious beliefs. The GDP of countries generally correlates negatively with their religiosity, i.e. the wealthier a population is the less religious it is.[7][8] However, sociologist and political economist Max Weber has argued that Protestant Christian countries are wealthier because of their Protestant work ethic.[9]

Religious beliefs of the wealthy[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leonhardt, David (2011-05-13). "Faith, Education and Income". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Religion Helps Shape Wealth Of Americans, Study Finds". Researchnews.osu.edu. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ Irving Lewis Allen, "WASP—From Sociological Concept to Epithet," Ethnicity, 1975 154+
  5. ^ B. Drummond Ayres Jr. (2011-12-19). "The Episcopalians: An American Elite with Roots Going back to Jamestown". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  6. ^ http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/525506
  7. ^ "Religion & Wealth: Less Religious Countries are More Wealthy". Atheism.about.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  8. ^ Survey Reports. "World Publics Welcome Global Trade — But Not Immigration | Pew Global Attitudes Project". Pewglobal.org. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  9. ^ Max Weber, [1904] 1920. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
  10. ^ "Carlos Slim Helu - Trade by Numbers®". Magazine.globeinvestor.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  11. ^ "Warren Buffett "Agnostic," Bill Gates Rejects Sermon On The Mount, Not "Huge Believer" In "Specific Elements" Of Christianity". American View. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
  12. ^ "Bill Gates". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  13. ^ Lesinski, Jeanne M (September 1, 2008). Bill Gates: Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Twenty First Century Books. ISBN 978-1-58013-570-2. Retrieved March 10, 2011. "The Gates family regularly went to services at the University Congregational Church." 
  14. ^ Lowe, Janet (January 5, 2001). Bill Gates Speaks: Insight from the World's Greatest Entrepreneur. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-40169-8. Retrieved March 10, 2011. "The Gates family attended the University Congregational Church, where the Reverend Dale Turner was pastor." 
  15. ^ Berkowitz, Edward D (2006). Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12494-2. Retrieved March 10, 2011. "Bill Gates was a member of the baby boom, born in 1955 into an upper-middle-class family near Seattle." He attended the Congregational Church, participated in the Boy Scouts, and went to a fancy private school." 
  16. ^ "The Business of religion". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  17. ^ "Warren Buffett". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  18. ^ "Wired 14.11: Faces of the New Atheism: The Scribe". Wired.com. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  19. ^ Dundee Presbyterian Church, Omaha website
  20. ^ "Being Bernard Arnault". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  21. ^ http://www.atlantic-times.com/archive_detail.php?recordID=1683
  22. ^ 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). 
  23. ^ 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). 
  24. ^ http://www.islamicstudies.harvard.edu/

External links[edit]