24 December 2020

The U.S. Is An Outlier In The Degree To Which It Is Religious


The rapid secularization of the U.S., in an international context, looks like a natural tendency towards affluent countries becoming less religious, which similarly situated countries experienced decades earlier. Considering only per capita GDP one would expect the percentage of Americans who say that religion is very important to in their lives to be about 20% when it is actually a bit more than 50%.

The countries below the curve tend to be either currently, or recently Communist countries, where atheism was a matter of official policy, or Asian countries where Islam is rare in most of the country. Countries where there was once an established religion also tend to be more secular. 

Countries with a significant Muslim population and countries with religious diversity tend to be above the curve.

The level of religiosity seen in the U.S. is typical of a nation with less than a third of its per capita GDP, and would probably be somewhat more of an outlier if compared to a regression curve that didn't include it as one of the data points.

Religion and Affluence Within The U.S.

Even within the U.S., less affluent states tend to be more religious and more affluent states tend to be more secular. The comparable data (also from Pew) regarding the importance of religion to people in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia is as follows:

% of adults who say religion is very important in their lives

1. Alabama77%
2. Mississippi74%
3. Tennessee71%
3. Louisiana71%
5. Arkansas70%
6. South Carolina69%
7. West Virginia64%
7. Georgia64%
7. Oklahoma64%
10. Texas63%
10. Kentucky63%
12. North Carolina62%
13. Virginia60%
14. New Mexico59%
15. Utah58%
16. South Dakota57%
17. Missouri56%
17. Ohio56%
19. Nebraska54%
20. Iowa53%
20. Florida53%
20. Indiana53%
20. North Dakota53%
24. Arizona51%
24. Pennsylvania51%
24. Idaho51%
27. Kansas50%
27. New Jersey50%
27. Maryland50%
27. District of Columbia50%
27. Michigan50%
27. Illinois50%
33. Wyoming49%
34. Rhode Island48%
35. California47%
35. Colorado47%
37. Delaware46%
37. Minnesota46%
39. Oregon45%
39. New York45%
41. Nevada44%
41. Montana44%
41. Hawaii44%
41. Washington44%
41. Wisconsin44%
46. Connecticut42%
47. Alaska41%
48. Maine34%
49. Massachusetts33%
49. New Hampshire33%
51. Vermont32%

The corresponding GDP data for U.S. states (which is not a perfect fit) is as follows:

U.S. states and territories by GDP per capita (current dollars)[3]
or territory
56 American Samoa11,200[8]
55 Northern Mariana Islands24,500[7]
54 Puerto Rico31,651[6]
53 Guam35,600[5]
52 U.S. Virgin Islands37,000[4]
5124 Mississippi37,948
5019 Arkansas42,454
4919 West Virginia43,053
4819 Idaho43,430
4717 Alabama45,219
4616 South Carolina45,280
4515 Montana46,609
4416 Kentucky46,898
4315 New Mexico46,954
4213 Maine47,969
4113 Arizona48,055
4013 Florida48,318
3912 Oklahoma50,613
3812 Missouri51,699
3711 Michigan53,209
3611 Vermont53,523
3511 Louisiana53,589
3411 Tennessee53,933
3311 North Carolina54,441
3211 Indiana55,172
3111 Nevada55,269
3011 Utah55,550
2910 Georgia55,832
2810 Kansas56,334
279 Oregon56,956
268 Ohio57,492
258 Wisconsin57,720
248 Rhode Island57,852
238 South Dakota58,624
228 Iowa59,977
216 Texas61,167
206 Pennsylvania61,594
6 United States62,390
196 Virginia62,563
186 New Hampshire63,067
176 Colorado63,882
166 Nebraska63,942
156 Hawaii64,096
146 Minnesota64,675
136 Illinois67,268
126 Maryland68,573
116 New Jersey69,378
106 Wyoming69,900
94 North Dakota72,597
84 Alaska73,205
74 Washington74,182
64 California74,205
53 Connecticut76,342
43 Delaware77,253
32 Massachusetts82,480
22 New York85,746
11 District of Columbia200,277

Religion and Politics in U.S. States

The importance of religion also tends to track red state, blue state lines. Eleven of the twelve most religious states voted for Trump in 2020 (Georgia was the exception), while sixteen of the eighteen least religious states voted for Biden in 2020 (Alaska and Montana were the exception).

1 comment:

Dave Barnes said...

I would say that Maylasia is an outlier.
Where is your discussion of this?