Economists searching for reasons to explain why some nations of the world are richer than others have discovered an interesting correlation. Nations whose populations have a widespread belief in hell tend to be less corrupt and more prosperous. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported the study. Drawing on work by outside economists who studied 35 countries, including the United States, Europe, Japan, India, and Turkey, the report found that certain religious beliefs apparently have an impact on people’s behavior. The St. Louis Fed quarterly review says, “In countries where large percentages of the population believe in hell, there seems to less corruption and a higher standard of living.” For example, 71 percent of the United States’ population claim to believe in a real hell, and the country has the world’s highest per capita income. Ireland, which has income levels comparable to the United States, reports that 53 percent of their population believe in the existence of hell. Researchers acknowledged that factors such as productivity and investment play a big role in the economic process, but they also looked at other unconventional motivations to explain the differences in national prosperity.
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