From Hell to Prosperity

A graphic showing striking disparities income among religions in America, from the NYT Magazine:

Bill switched from childhood Methodist to adult Episcopalian in an attempt to boost income. Did that likely work?

Barro and McCleary 2006 argue the relationship goes from income to religiosity (as measured by church attendance, personal prayer, and belief in hell and the afterlife). At least for the Protestant denominations, the ones on the left mostly feature more religiosity in these senses than the ones on the right.

Barro and McCleary analysed the relationship going the other way also, and found that Belief in Hell raised your economic growth potential.

Another study found that college students who believed in a vengeful, angry God were less likely to cheat on a test than those who believed in a kindly, forgiving God. And of course we know from other literature that trustworthy behavior is associated with more opportunities to trade, and thus more prosperity.

A different twist than the Protestant Ethic: Scared Rich?