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Max Weber Gains Data

November 16, 2009

New reports are out that belief in some kind of religion tends to spur economic development, particularly belief in some kind of hell.  I can’t say I totally understand that last bit, other than to say it’s been observed before (especially if you were in PPE).

Italian economists have presented findings that religion can boost GDP by increasing trust within a society; researchers in the United States showed that religion reduces corruption and increases respect for law in ways that boost overall economic growth. A number of researchers have documented how merchants used religious backgrounds to establish one another’s reliability.

I guess the reduction of transaction costs makes sense as a determinant of economic growth, but why (the) hell?  I guess the ethical actions one takes in the present life is usually a determinant of whether or not some eternal reward or punishment is to follow according to most religions, but I guess I just agree with more of a Nietzschean viewpoint that religion tends to undermine the ability to live a fully satisfied mortal life because you’re constantly making trade-offs for humility/eternity’s sake.

Then again, who ever really leads a fully satisfied life if you don’t have some externally imposed order?  Aye, there’s the rub.

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