A friend shared with me a brief but interesting article on the link between poverty and religiosity. The writer plotted various countries religiosity versus their G.D.P. per capita. It inspired me to do a bit of analysis as to where we (the English-speaking Caribbean) are. Using GDP figures aggregated from the CIA World Factbook and the Caribbean Development Bank, I estimated the average GDP to be about US$16,000 per capita (this included higher income countries such as the Cayman Islands). Taking this figure and using the religiosity percentage suggested by the Gallop survey I have plotted the results below on to the original author’s graph. Countries with a lower GDP, such as Belize, Guyana and Jamaica, are likelier to have a higher religiosity, perhaps 90%.
USA is one of the few developed countries to buck the trend, perhaps due to the agregation of the poorer states with the richer ones. Ex-(and existing) Communist countries also seem to buck the trend, maybe due to the secular nature of their former regimes. The Gallop survey concludes that the poor do derive some emotional benefit from their religion that helps them cope with difficult circumstances. Evidence that it is indeed the “opium of the poor”? You'll find the links to the original article and Gallop survey here: