Economic Security and the Strength of Religious Cleavages
66 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Last revised: 28 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 24, 2021
Religious belief and church-attendance often go hand in hand, but the strength of the connection between these two dimensions of religiosity varies considerably across countries. By focusing on the strength of this connection, this paper challenges the entrenched idea that the politicization of religion in elections will decline as economic security increases. We provide evidence from established democracies that religious belief has the strongest connection to religious practice in societies where economic security is the highest. We also show that religious voting cleavages are strongest when there is a strong connection between religious belief and church attendance. This is true because strong beliefs are associated with distinctive policy preferences (but not with political engagement), and church attendance is associated with political engagement (but not, so much, with distinctive policy preferences). Thus, societies with high levels of economic security can facilitate the cohesion of religious groups associated with strong religious voting cleavages.
Keywords: religious cleavages, religion, economic development
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