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Jochen Hirschle

According to secularization theory, religiosity of individuals decreases as societies embark on the road to economic modernization. A number of alternative approaches predict that the shift from modernity to postmodernity results in a more complex, hybrid outcome. We translate these arguments in a testable hypothesis using gdp as a proxy to operationalize for the degree of modernization/postmodernization. We predict a reversed U-shaped relation between gdp development and religious vitality: religiosity fades as societies move from traditional to modern conditions but regains strength as they reach the postmodern state. Using data from six waves of the European Social Survey (2002–2012), our results demonstrate stable decreases in religious belief and practice accompanied by economic growth from a low level to medium level. As gdp increases further, we find religious decay to be decelerated; some religious measures even increase with gdp rising over 35,000 Euro per capita.