Religious Freedom a Vital Factor in Economic Growth, Studies Show

Economic growth is driven by just three factors, experts say, and religious freedom is one of them.


In this 21st century, the era of all-embracing globalization and bold new technologies, mainstream media tends to portray religion at large as a strange and outdated phenomenon that doesn’t quite belong in the modern fast-paced world of business, science and social media. But is that really so?

Evidently, even the most confident-sounding analytics, think tanks and journalists get it wrong sometimes. A careful glance at the raw statistics reveals that the rhetoric about religion is slowly shifting. Some brilliant minds that kept pace with the rest of the world have managed to collect comprehensive statistics and facts and put them on display in an excellent report which finds that “religious freedom is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth.”

Brian Grim, Ph. D., author of the report, is president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) and a leading expert on international religious demography and the socioeconomic impact of restrictions on religious freedom. Prior to assuming his current position in 2014, Grim directed the largest social science effort to collect and analyze global data on religion, at the Pew Research Center. He also worked for two decades as an educator in China, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the former Soviet Union. He co-authored The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Cambridge, 2011, with Roger Finke), delivered a highly informative TED Talk, “The numbers of religious freedom,” in 2013, and recently produced another study in which he explains in simple yet comprehensive terms the great socioeconomic value of religion in the United States. (Watch Brian Grim talk about his findings here.)

Freedom of Religion economy Pew Research Center