Here is a fascinating article on the influence of specific religious beliefs on economic growth. It’s too long to do justice with excerpts, so I will give you this teaser from The curious economic effects of religion – The Boston Globe:
A pair of Harvard researchers recently examined 40 years of data from dozens of countries, trying to sort out the economic impact of religious beliefs or practices. They found that religion has a measurable effect on developing economies – and the most powerful influence relates to how strongly people believe in hell.
The research goes into far more than this sensationalistic tidbit, finding, for example, that Protestants were involved in greater economic growth in the years after the Reformation than Catholics. Why? Some still suggest Max Weber’s hypothesis that the “Protestant work ethic” came from the need to prove one’s salvation through attaining earthly prosperity. The problem is that PROTESTANTS DIDN’T BELIEVE THAT! A more convincing reason is that “mass education was a Protestant invention.” A peasant taught to read the Bible could then read anything, giving him access to all kinds of information, and opening the door to prosperity. Even more fundamentally, I would argue, is the DOCTRINE OF VOCATION, which gave economic labor a new value and spiritual significance. The article also shows strong evidence that Christianity builds trust, honesty, and other virtues necessary for a strong economy.
HT: Joe Carter