Jerry Coyne posted a talk at the Harvard Museum of Natural History where he showed data suggesting that dysfunctional societies tend to be more religious than others. I wondered if a different index of human well-being might give a similar insight or a different one. I found a site, Measure of America, offering a tremendous amount of data and touting a parameter called the human development index. This merges life expectancy, access to knowledge, and income. So it is not focused on measures of dysfunctionality, but on measures that one associates with well-being. I downloaded the data by state in the USA and correlated that with a recent Gallup poll on religiosity in America. This is the result:
The Human Development Index is negatively correlated with religiosity (r=-0.66897).
This is very consistent with Jerry Coyne’s proposal. This breaks down the analysis to a state-by-state basis for the USA, as opposed to the world-wide basis of comparison Jerry Coyne used. The pattern holds within the USA.
The data file I used is available here.HDI vs Religiosity