By Mathew Goldstein
The question of what effectively prevents corruption, and what contributes to corruption, cannot be answered by only looking at the influence of religion. China appears to have relatively high corruption and one of the highest proportion of self-declared atheists. Nevertheless, given that religions so frequently claim an ethical advantage for believers over skeptics, it is good to know a little about what social science has to say about the correlations between religious beliefs and ethical standards. Since data is often collected on a national level, such comparisons are often most practical to make between states. The Epiphenom blog focuses on social science studies of religion and non-belief. Recently, they reported on the results of a study using standard assessments of national corruption by Hamid Yeganeh & Daniel Sauers of Winona State University, USA. They found that countries with the most religious people also have the highest levels of corruption.