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February 14, 2020 Friday 10:41:44 AM IST

Secularism and tolerance of minority groups predicts future prosperity

Policy Indications

A new study by the University of Bristol scientists has found that secular cultures that are tolerant of minority groups and respectful of individuals’ rights tend to have more wealth, education and democracy. New research, which surveyed nearly half a million people across 109 countries, shows that changes in culture generally come before any improvements in wealth, education and democracy, rather than the other way around.

Researchers from the University of Bristol (UK) and the University of Tennessee (US) used the global survey data to show how secularism and openness towards minorities can be used to statistically predict future GDP per capita, secondary education enrollment and democratisation.

The outcome shows that pre-existing cultural values predicted future levels of economic growth and prosperity. One of the policy implications of the study’s analysis is that the promotion of a country’s development must take preexisting cultural values into account. For instance, promoting democracy, whether through economic exchange or regime change, will only succeed if combined with promoting openness and tolerance of minority groups.

The first places to see dramatic increases in wealth, health, education and democracy tended to be Western countries, but the causes are hard to prove. This research shows that - at least in the 20th Century - places which had the greatest improvement also tended to have pre-existing secular and tolerant cultures. The question posed by the study’s researchers was to determine if these cultural values evolved first, or if they emerged because of increased prosperity. The study was supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee. 


(Content Courtesy: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2020/february/tolerance-and-prosperity.html)

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