Income Inequality and Religion

16 Dec

File:Street Child, Srimangal Railway Station.jpg

There’s an emerging trend in sociology that has been noticing a correlation between income inequality and religiosity. Simply put, countries with the highest levels of income inequality are also the most religious. It might be subconscious knowledge, but it is usually the most religious people, at least in the US, who fight the hardest to keep income inequality either at its current levels or try to increase it.

From my own studies, I’ve seen that poverty, lack of education, and religiosity are all tightly coupled. Since I know that correlation does not infer causation, I can’t say which indicator is leading the other ones. That is, I can’t say that religiosity creates poverty, or that poverty creates lack of education, or what have you. But these recent studies point towards the indication that poverty, more importantly, huge chasms between rich and poor, is what creates high levels of religiosity.

In this recent study, the US ranks fourth among the countries studied as far as which ones have the worst income inequality (Chile is number one).

4. United States
> Gini coefficient: 0.378
> Change in income inequality: +12.1%
> Employment rate: 66.7% (13th highest)
> Change in income of the rich: +1.9% per year
> Change in income of the poor: +0.5% per year

Inequality in the United States increased significantly from 1985 to 2008, putting it in the fourth-worst spot in the study. As with many other countries in which income inequality has increased, average income has gone up across all income groups since the mid-1980s, but not equally. The income of the wealthiest 10% has greatly outpaced the poorest 10%. The share enjoyed by the top 0.1% in total pretax income quadrupled in the 30 years to 2008.

Ironically, movements like Occupy Wall Street, if successful, would do the biggest blow to religiosity in the country.

One of the things that annoys me about the religious mentality is summed up in one of the sayings of Jesus: πάντοτε γὰρ τοὺς πτωχοὺς ἔχετε μεθ᾽ ἑαυτῶν, καὶ ὅταν θέλητε δύνασθε αὐτοῖς [πάντοτε] εὖ ποιῆσαι, ἐμὲ δὲ οὐ πάντοτε ἔχετε (Mark 14.7: pantote gar tous ptochous echete meth’ eauton, kai otan thelete dynasthe autois [pantote] eu poiesai, eme de ou pantote echete : : the poor you will always have with you, and you have the ability to help whenever you want. However, you will not always have me.). Religious people never do anything to actually relieve the scourge of poverty. They only give money to them. Analogously, they are giving the poor fish instead of teaching them how to fish for themselves.

Poverty, for some religious people, is even moreso seen as a blessing. So even though religious people give the most to charity, they are doing the least to actually get rid of poverty; which things like education (and eliminating income inequality) would actually do. But, as though there were some sort of subconscious knowledge on the part of the religious memeplex, promoting those things would do the most damage to the grip of religion on human minds.

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in economics/sociology


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