NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sept. 13, 2016.
Comments by Brian Grim
Religion annually contributes nearly $1.2 trillion of socio-economic value to the U.S. economy, according to a September 2016 first-of-its-kind study that Melissa Grim and I published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.
That is equivalent to being the world’s 15th largest national economy, putting it ahead of about 180 other countries. It’s more than the annual revenues of the world’s top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google. And it’s also more than 50% larger than that of the annual global revenues of America’s 6 largest oil and gas companies. So, you might say, that represents a lot of spiritually inspired fuel being pumped into the U.S. economy.
Religion certainly plays a unique role in the socio-economic behaviors of Americans. For example, adults who are highly religious are significantly more likely than those who are less religious to report they did volunteer work and made donations to the poor in the past week, according to the Pew Research Center.
Religion contributes economically to American society in three general categories:
— Congregations: $418 billion
— Religious institutions: $303 billion
— Business: $437 billion (faith-based, -related or -inspired)
All these figures come from a careful analysis of survey and financial data from a wide range of national sources detailed in the research article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.
Sources include: National Congregations Study; Religious Congregations and Membership Study; Private School Universe Survey; Institution of Education Sciences; Becker’s Hospital Review; Revenue reports of faith-based health organizations, charities & businesses; Faith-related business data by Oxford University’s Said Business School Professor Theodore Roosevelt Malloch; Congregational “halo effect” analysis by University of Pennsylvania Professor Ram Cnaan; and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith.