A newly released study from the Gallup organization, based on surveys in 114 countries in 2009, shows globally 84 percent of people say religion is an important part of their daily lives. But what’s really interesting about the study is this:
“Each of the most religious countries is relatively poor, with a per-capita GDP below $5,000,” Gallup analysts state.
“This reflects the strong relationship between a country’s socioeconomic status and the religiosity of its residents.
“In the world’s poorest countries — those with average per-capita incomes of $2,000 or lower — the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives is 95 percent.
“In contrast, the median for the richest countries — those with average per-capita incomes higher than $25,000 — is 47 percent.”
One theory about why this is the case is that religion plays a more functional role in the world’s poorest countries, helping many residents cope with a daily struggle to provide for themselves and their families, the Gallup analysts said.
A previous Gallup analysis supports this idea, finding the relationship between religiosity and emotional wellbeing is stronger among poor countries.
What’s even more interesting in the new study: “The United States is one of the rich countries that bucks the trend.
“About two-thirds of Americans — 65 percent — say religion is important in their daily lives.”
In other rich countries, the percent is much lower:
• Sweden: 17 percent
• Denmark: 19 percent
• UK: 27 percent
• France: 30 percent