Residents of Poor Countries Have a Great Advantage: Religion

An analysis of polling data from 132 nations shows that religious belief appears to be the main reason why people in poor countries see greater meaning in life than residents of wealthy countries, say Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia and Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among the nations with the highest sense that life has meaning are Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ethiopia, Laos, and Ecuador. By connecting daily experiences with a coherent belief system, religion plays a critical role in helping people construct meaning out of extreme hardship, the authors say.

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