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Work ethic: Protestant no more

Work ethic: Protestant no more

A new study says that the less religious a state’s population is, the more productive and entrepreneurial the economy.

On Faith Blog at the Washington Post:

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.


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Strange that the two explanations offered contrast “worldly” church activity to unproductivity for the sake of “unworldly” salvation.

How about salvation as “worldly” activity with/in/through the “unworldly?” Something Christians like to call the incarnational.

However you put it, it’s a different economy. Thank God.

Brian Sholl


Are these nose-to-the-grindstone atheists/apathetiests one day going to wake up and see the *Sabbath rest* they’ve been missing? Criminey.

JC Fisher

OK, that was snarky.

It *could* be, that it’s the theists w/ their “nose-to-the-grindstone” (of work they hate 5-6 days a week).

Whereas the non-theists, w/ their “YOLO” philosophy, earn their daily bread inventing video games, or other activities they actually love. I dunno.

Michael Russell

Finally, some good news about Christianity! Next they will realize that sleeping and eating correlate with lower entrepreneurial practices too!

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