Do Strong Religious Beliefs Stifle Innovation?

Countries that are intensely religious are typically less innovative than those that aren’t, according to a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study, titled “Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth,” compares religious beliefs and belief in God with scientific innovation as measured by issuance of patents. The paper also delves into the types of political and scientific regimes that result from religious conviction, ranging from a Western European model with relatively unimpeded scientific progress and a declining role for the Church to a theocratic model with a political class closely allied to religious leaders who are resistant to scientific discoveries. Both feature high taxes, though spending is channeled toward different ends.