Matthias Basedau / Simone Gobien / Sebastian Prediger

The Ambivalent Role of Religion for Sustainable Development: A Review of the Empirical Evidence

GIGA Working Paper, No. 297, February 2017

Abstract
Until recently, academia has largely neglected the impact of religion on sustainable development. However, empirical studies have shown that religion remains important in many societies and that its importance has been increasing since the beginning of the new millennium. This paper reviews the empirical quantitative literature on the effect of religion on development from the last decade. We start by disaggregating the concepts of religion and sustainable development into four religious and three developmental dimensions and proposing a framework to identify causal mechanisms. Numerous mechanisms are possible, and this complexity explains why only a few uncontested findings exist. Religion is ambivalent vis‐à‐vis development: although religious dimensions exert a positive influence on physical and mental health as well as on general well‐being, scholars have found a negative relationship between religious dimensions and both income and gender equality. Studies agree that the dominance of one religious group together with parallel ethnic and religious cleavages increases the risk of conflict, while studies on the pro‐peace effects of religious factors are largely missing. Methodological challenges relate to the availability of fine‐grained data, especially for non‐Western countries, and the use of concepts and definitions. Most importantly, the study of religion and development requires methods that allow for causal inference.

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GIGA AutorInnen

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

Direktor des GIGA Instituts für Afrika-Studien
Redaktion GIGA Focus Afrika

Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau ist Direktor des GIGA Instituts für Afrika-Studien und Professor für Politikwissenschaft an der Universität Hamburg. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind politische Institutionen und bewaffnete Konflikte, beides im besonderen Zusammenhang mit Ethnizität, natürlichen Ressourcen und Religion. Er ist zudem Regionalkoordinator für West- und Zentralafrika beim Bertelsmann Transformation Index.

Dr. Simone Gobien ist Associate am GIGA Institut für Afrika-Studien.

Dr. Sebastian Prediger ist Ökonom am GIGA Institut für Afrika-­Studien und Lehrbeauftragter an der Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

Aktuelle Publikationen der AutorInnen

Matthias Basedau

Party Systems in Africa

in: Nic Cheeseman (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Matthias Basedau / Vita Roy

Sleep, Bark, or Bite: Do Natural Resources Make the Difference Regarding Peaceful or Violent Conflict?

International Area Studies Review, 23, 2020, 1, 73-92

Matthias Basedau

Immer noch ein wichtiger Faktor: das Militär in Afrika

GIGA Focus Afrika, 05/2020

Matthias Basedau

Die ‚African Renaissance‘: Möglichkeiten für die deutsche und europäische Afrikapolitik

in: Metis (ed.), Metis-Perspektiven: Afrika – der aufsteigende Kontinent, Berlin und München: Metis, 2019, 6-10

Matthias Basedau

Book Review: Africanistan - Development or Jihad? by Serge Mihailof

Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik, 2019