Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mississippi is Like...

Lebanon, at least in terms of religious attendance. This result, and many similar comparisons, are based on a recent Gallup poll of states. This poll complements the World Values Survey, which finds high rates of religiosity in the US, relative to other high income countries. In the WVS we look more like the middle east than Western Europe or Japan. The Gallup poll adds useful information by taking a closer look at the distribution of religiosity by states as opposed to the whole country. As expected, the coastal states have lower levels than the rest of the country. Culture matters. As Ronald Inglehart writes:
The evidence suggests that culture plays a much more crucial role in democracy than the literature of the past two decades would indicate. [...] In the long run, democracy is not attained simply by making institutional changes or through elite-level maneuvering. Its survival also depends on the values and beliefs of ordinary citizens.

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