A new study says that the less religious a state’s population is, the more productive and entrepreneurial the economy.
The study, titled “Religion: Productive or Unproductive?” by economists Travis Wiseman of Mississippi State University and Andrew Young of West Virginia University, was published in the March edition of the Journal of Institutional Economics.
In the study, Wiseman and Young find that the “measure of total Christian adherents is robustly and positively correlated with states’ unproductive entrepreneurship scores” in a given state.
“This could be because religion imposes opportunity costs in terms of time and resources that may otherwise have been devoted toward productive entrepreneurship,” they write. “For example, time spent in church reduces time available for engaging in business activity. More subjectively, religion may create psychic costs to pursuing worldly gains rather than salvation in the beyond.”
On the flip side, they find that the percentage of a state’s atheists or agnostics is “positively and significantly related to productive entrepreneurship” within that state.
“One possibility is that productive entrepreneurial activities are largely substitutes for religious ones,” Wiseman and Young suggest.