Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More Data on Religion and Behavior

I have been known in the past to be fascinated with how religious faith correlates with "immoral" behavior such as high divorce rates. In the US religious fanaticism has been coopted by the far right to distract the public while it defunds public institutions.

Now I don't know if you've read this article in the London Times about how religion correlates with all sorts of societal problems such as high infant mortality, STD and crime, but I wanted to check it out and downloaded the original paper from the Journal of Religion and Society ... here's some data from that study:

- If you exclude the US, crime does not correlate with belief in God ... infact there is NO CORRELATION. The US does have more crime and a high percentage of believers, but it's an outlier.
- No correlation between the belief in God and many societal indicators such as suicide, life expectancy, and (excluding the US) STDs. The story with STDs is like crime, the US is an outlier, having both high rates of belief and high rates of STDs.
- The authors did find a good correlation between the belief in God and infant mortality, abortion rate, and teenage pregnancy (see figures from the paper below).

A = Australia
C = Canada
D = Denmark
E = Great Britain
F = France
G = Germany
H = Holland
I = Ireland
J = Japan
L = Switzerland
N = Norway
P = Portugal
R = Austria
S = Spain
T = Italy
U = United States
W = Sweden
Z = New Zealand

So religious belief does not prevent you from committing a crime, committing suicide or dying early. It does make your teenage daughter more likely to get pregnant. In addition the more religious a society is, the more likely that a childbearing woman gets an abortion. And if the child is not aborted, it has an increased chance of dieing before the age of five. Perhaps increased religiosity results in a lack of education, especially for women? Or perhaps religion tends to antagonize woman's rights?