One of the key trends that we see with religion is that the wealthier you are, the less religion plays a role
. We see this very clearly when we study the importance of religion compared to GDP.
There are two notable exceptions though. The first one is China
, where religion plays almost no role at all
, despite the average GDP per capita being fairly low. The other exception is the US
, where people are extremely religious
compared to every other western nation and considering it has the highest GDP per capita of all.
But things are changing. In 2007, 71% of the people in the US said they believed in God as an absolute certainty. In 2014, that number was down to 63%, with 53% saying that religion was very important to them. And we see an even bigger impact when segmented by age. 66% of the The older generation (65+) say that religion is 'very important', while only 39% of the younger generations say the same.
My interest in this, though, is how this links to future problems with extremism around the world. If we want to prevent the next Boko Haram in Africa, for instance, it seems that the best way to do that is to invest in the future of Africa
, and very aggressively boosts its economy and living standards.
My point is that we keep hearing about how European governments are reducing their foreign aid programs, and are instead talking about boosting its own military spending. This seems to me to be a very poor way of solving the problem.
Imagine, for instance, instead of spending $680 billion/year on the US military, that we took half of that and invested it in the future of Africa. Imagine that instead of talking about border controls and walls, we offered to help others build a future.
It seems to me that, instead of actually solving any problems in the long run, we are simply spending money in the short run on things that makes no difference (or worse, adds to the instability). We have become incapable of thinking about the future, and are instead just focusing on the current election cycle.