Human Flourishing and Religious Liberty: Evidence from Over 150 Countries, 2006-2018
41 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2019 Last revised: 25 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 21, 2019
This paper studies the spatial and time series patterns of religious liberty across countries and estimates its effect on measures of human flourishing. First, while there are significant cross-country differences in religious liberty, it has declined in the past decade across countries, particularly among countries that rank higher in economic freedom. Second, countries with greater religious liberty nonetheless exhibit greater levels of economic freedom, particularly property rights. Third, using micro-data across over 150 countries in the world between 2006 and 2018, increases in religious freedom are associated with robust increases in measures of human flourishing even after controlling for time-invariant characteristics across space and time and a wide array of time-varying country-specific factors, such as economic activity and institutional quality. Fourth, these improvements in well-being are primarily driven by improvements in civil liberties, such as women empowerment and freedom of expression.
Keywords: economic development, human flourishing, religious liberty, subjective well being
JEL Classification: E20, H10, O40, O43, Z12
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