It’s being discovered that religious attendance can be fruitful to the American economy. A large body of research work on economic, health, and educational benefits and losses reaped from following a religion. While most researchers found several spiritually unrelated benefits of adhering to religious attendance, they also uncovered that it could be less about how strong faith is and more about punctuality and dependability when arriving at events that makes the difference. These benefits may be independent of the specific belief being followed, rather that a belief is being followed in the first place. It could be more about retaining these beliefs, acting upon them, and networking regularly with like-minded peers. What exactly are the benefits?
Firstly, studies show religious attendance once or more weekly leads to 7 additional years in life expectancy. More studies show health improvements like lowering of blood pressure or a stronger disease-fending immune system. Religious beings are less often linked with depression, drug use, and alcohol abuse.
Real economic gains from religion
The question is: what does this all add up to, as far as economic benefit is concerned? Sociology professor, Rodney Stark, states that the US economy is benefiting up to 2.6 trillion dollars per annum simply by being a relatively religious nation. Note that this equates to about a sixth of the economy’s total output! Children just being more likely to graduate from high school has an immensely positive economic impact. Religious adults commit less crime, saving millions of dollars in national funds that are annually wasted on rectifying national crimes and prisoners. Unemployment and welfare programs also make cost savings.
A recent publication, titled America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists by Rodney Stark, delves deeper into this addition to human capital, reduced unemployment rates, reduced crime rates, and more. Some of these benefits reflect directly in economic facts and figures. Insurance premiums and tax rates are kept low due to religious individuals. In addition to this myriad of economic gains, there is the unquantifiable gain of happiness.