Wealth and Church Attendance

A correlation has been found between riches and faith, at least among non-Hispanic whites in the United States.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attending religious services may enrich the soul, but it also fattens the wallet, according to research released on Tuesday.

“Doubling the frequency of attendance leads to a 9.1 percent increase in household income, or a rise of 5.5 percent as a fraction of the poverty scale,” Jonathan Gruber of the economics department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in his study.

“Those with more faith may be less ‘stressed out’ about daily problems that impede success in the labor market and the marriage market, and therefore are more successful,” Gruber wrote in the study, which was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Living in a community with complementary ethnic groups that share the same religion increases the frequency of going to a house of worship, he said in the paper titled “Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?”

Such visits correlate to higher levels of education and income, lower levels of welfare receipt and disability, higher levels of marriage and lower levels of divorce, the study said.

Gruber says he focused on non-Hispanic whites aged 25 or older because “there is very strong evidence of racial segregation in church-going, so that the density of Hispanics or non-whites in a religion in some area is not likely to be relevant for the religious participation of whites in that area.”

Gruber divided the individuals into seven groups: Catholics, Jews, Liberal Protestants, Moderate Protestants, Conservative Protestants, other and none.

So, if you read this and you only attend once a year, do you think, okay, I go twice and I get that 9.1% increase? Because, shoot, for a 10% raise, who wouldn’t spend two extra hours. I mean, you don’t have to go to the three hour Easter service if you’re Catholic. Go to the afternoon mass some regular day. Or, I go twice a week. Does that mean we have to go four times a week to get an increase in income?

Years ago, when I was in missions, I read a study that said that conversion to Christianity increased the standard of living of the new convert within a year. Some said this was because they got out of the bad stuff they were into, drinking for example, and into strong work ethics. But it seems to me that if it is true, and I couldn’t figure out what to ask for to Google for it, maybe it’s not a simple correlation after all. Maybe it is causal.

I found the Reuter’s article on Yahoo via a post on Clayton Cramer’s blog.

1 thought on “Wealth and Church Attendance

  1. Hrmmm…I go three times a week. I’d have to have the church offer more services to increase my wealth! 😛

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