The Religious Composition of Top Income and Wealth Groups, a Global Overview

In: Journal of Religion and Demography

In this paper we focus on the top 10% of income earners, and within those at the individuals with more than 1 and 50 million in assets worldwide and their religion. This is a group of people with an inherent global outlook on their activities and social lives, who often share more interests in common with people along the same scale of wealth than with many of their fellow country-people at lower levels of income. The perception of political power gained by wealthy individuals punctually observed, has been found by research to be buttressed by the more active political participation by people in the upper ranges of income distribution and increased inequality is found to increase unequal political outcomes.

The social behaviour of this group of people at the top of the global income scale drives social policy, as these citizens tend to be better educated, connected, travelled and economically and politically active than the parts of the population that are worse off.

Religion, or the lack thereof, is a global social marker that influences behaviour on many levels, often at subconscious levels shared by whole societies, such as the perception of fairness and retribution, redistribution of resources and the wider relationship of society to economic resources.

Contemplated from a global perspective, religion as a shared cultural trait across nations may be a powerful unifier of interests and driver of political and economic action to tackle global problems such as climate change, environmental degradation, global poverty alleviation and other type of global externalities. Understanding the religious make-up of the group of people most active in shaping economic and cultural decisions globally should help in finding platforms for global cooperation.

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