Project on Religion and Economic Change


About Us | Overview


The goal of the Project on Religion and Economic Change is to evaluate the effect of religion on economies around the world at the national, community, and individual levels.

The central question is one that dates back to sociologist Max Weber and his study of Protestant beliefs and the rise of capitalism. Countless scholars have wrestled with the question, but have largely been frustrated by methodological or data challenges. One of the major obstacles has been a difficulty in finding credible, detailed historical information for cross-national comparisons.

PREC is unique in its scope and design. Our data sets, based on missionary documents, permit an unprecedented look at the cumulative effect of religious influence on economies over 190 years and in every non-Western society. Innovative use of Brazilian census data and surveys in Malawi allow scholars a more detailed picture of possible religious effects.

The findings produced by PREC will illuminate this age-old question with the best of modern social science, technology, and a sense of global perspective. Perhaps more importantly, the vast amount of raw data collected through this project provides researchers with an unparalleled new resource help answer questions regarding the health, educational, legal, religious, and economic conditions of many nations across nearly two centuries.

This effort is part of the Spiritual Capital project of the Metanexus Institute and made possible by the Templeton Foundation.

Population Research Center
The University of Texas at Austin
Project on Religion and Economic Change © 2005
Funded by the Templeton Foundation and the Metanexus Institute