I stumbled upon a recent Gallup poll correlating the average national income with the importance of religion in a person's life:
A tour of the world's most religious countries wouldn't be all mountaintop shrines and magnificent temples -- it would also take you to some pretty bleak places. Gallup Polls in 143 countries reveal that among countries where average annual incomes are $2,000 or less, 92% of residents say religion is an important part of their daily lives. By contrast, among the richest countries surveyed -- those where average annual incomes are $25,000 or more -- that figure drops to 44%.Gallup offers several theories. An older theory positing a relationship between secularism and modernity has become come under fire recently for its incompleteness. Newer theories show that religion provides a sense of hope for those who have greater exposure to social vulnerability, and that religion provides an emotional lift to those in most need, especially through religious communities and social networks. As such, in countries where there is the highest religiosity, there is the highest rates of life satisfaction. With these theories in mind, Gallup concludes:
Gallup Poll results support the idea that the social and psychological benefits of religion are strongest in the world's poorest countries. However, these effects vary from country to country, and as history has shown, religion is often associated with devastating conflict as well. One implication seems to be this: Strategies for development in the world's poorest countries should seek to leverage the positive power of religion by promoting conditions, such as interfaith harmony and low state interference, under which its benefits are most likely to come shining through.I feel that, while these theories seem correct, we are missing more explanation from the other direction. I wonder if it could be said that a richer person credits their economic success to him/herself, while a poorer person credits his/her success to God. Transversing up the socio-economic ladder, belief in personal and individual success starts trumping the belief that success is derived from God. Just a thought.