Religiosity and charity

Perhaps my last post on charity…

[See my posts on global charity, four modern Asian countries and charity, and a history of Asian Charity]

A worldwide Gallup poll: “Worldwide, Highly Religious More Likely to Help Others

An obvious question is whether this time and money is being put into religious organizations rather than, say, helping poor people. But first one should note that the religious show more strongly in the ‘helping  a stranger’ category as well, which is unlikely to be affected by such considerations.

This paper, for the U.S. at least, shows that the greater charitability of the religious is not just a result of religious-giving, but in fact religious give more to non-religious charities as well.

It’s interesting, though, that inter-country, I don’t see religiousity vs. non-religiosity playing a strong role in levels of charity – see my post on the world giving index. Perhaps there is a correlation there as well, but one would have to put all the info together to see it. Looking at the top countries for example, they are not more religious than others I think. for example, Australia, one of the most charitable, apparently has about the lowest church attendance in the world (though a majority consider themselves Christian). At the same time, I would assume that the religious in Australia are more charitable than the non-religious.

Edit: As Johann Happolati points out in the comments, this inter-country difference is undoubtedly driven largely by wealth. This is also quite clear if you read the post on the World Giving Index, which has a graph showing a strong correlation between gdp and ‘wellbeing’ and charitability between countries.

If it makes anyone feel better, in the U.S. at least, religious people have more social pathologies.

5 thoughts on “Religiosity and charity

  1. Pingback: World Giving Index | unsafe harbour

  2. Pingback: Charity in 4 modern Asian countries | unsafe harbour

  3. Hypothesis: across countries, wealth matters (so for example African’s give less) but within countries (or at an individual level) religion matters. In other words, other things being equal, religious people give more, but over all poverty dampens charity. Is that possible?

    The thing about religious people having more social pathologies is a bit silly, I think. I mean it’s true, but it surely just reflects that fact that people who are hard up are more likely to turn to religion. It would be like why poorer people often have more conservative attitudes—not because conservative attitudes cause poverty, but because poor people run up against social pathologies a lot more.

    • Yes, the religion=social pathology thing wasn’t meant very seriously, though no doubt the correlation holds globally.

      If you look at the world giving post, there’s a graph showing a strong correlation between both gdp and ‘wellbeing’ and charity, so that is definitely driving a lot of the inter-country variance.

      • Although there are clearly other factors involved: only 5 of the top 20 highest gdp’s (ppp) per capita feature in the top 20 of the ‘World Giving Index 2011’.

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