Religiousness, Corruption, HDI and GDP: A pattern?



  • Map: These are the world’s least religious countries
    Religion in the world
    Human Development Index
    Corruption

    Do religiousness and corruption cause low HDI and GDP or the other way around?



  • According to Marx ("opium of the people"), the other way round.



  • You'd need to look at how those things developed over time. While Europe is not very religious now, that's not always been the case, and I would say that the West gained its current lead in GDP and HDI back when it was pretty religious.

    I might also note that China stands out in being both atheist and corrupt.

    tl;dr; These are all interesting characteristics of a culture, but I don't think there are simple cause and effect relationships between them.



  • @Ascendant said:

    Do religiousness and corruption cause low HDI and GDP or the other way around?

    These are two, independent, questions, with very different answers:

    Corruption first

    @Ascendant said:

    Does corruption cause low HDI and GDP or the other way around?

    These are certainly correlated and corruption is both a cause and more direct result of the underlying problem, which is lack of trustworthy legal and judicial system.

    Market, to work, requires ability to trust the business partner. When people lived in tribal groups of about 150 members, each member knew the others well enough to know whom to trust, but as the number of people grew, some mechanism for enforcing contracts is needed. The best option, implemented by the more developed societies, is judicial system. In places where judicial system does not work, corruption networks take its place. They ensure that business can happen at all by only placing trust on the limited number of contacts in the network, but at cost of much bigger overhead as the key people in the network with many contacts will require their, rather high, shares.

    So corruption is both symptom of insufficient judicial system, and the cause of poverty as it is where the inefficiency happens.

    @Ascendant said:

    Does religiousness cause low HDI and GDP or the other way around?

    In this case, I don't think there is much connection. The criterion is too coarse anyway. Some religions and life philosophies support entrepreneurship more than others and that has effect on how developed the society is. In that regard, atheism is just another religion (system of beliefs, life philosophy) and not even particularly special.

    It might be that low HDI and GDP don't permit atheism, because atheism does not provide much consolation to the poor. But high HDI and GDP don't preclude theism.


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