Class Warfare Blog

September 15, 2016

Can You Spell Opportunity Cost, Boys and Girls?

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:23 am
Tags: , ,

I have made this point before but new evidence brings it into clearer focus. According to The Guardian newspaper “Religion in the United States is worth $1.2tn a year, making it equivalent to the 15th largest national economy in the world, according to a study.

The faith economy has a higher value than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology companies in the US, including Apple, Amazon and Google, says the analysis from Georgetown University in Washington DC.

“The Socioeconomic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis calculated the $1.2tn figure by estimating the value of religious institutions, including healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations.

Co-author Brian Grim said it was a conservative estimate.

A conservative estimate . . .

Then, one must consider the economic principle of opportunity cost. This is the obvious, but often overlooked, point that is you spend your money on B you do not have that money to spend on A. If one were to make up a wish list of how to spend $1,200,000.000,000 per year in the U.S., would we select “religion” off of that list and nothing else? Of course, we have more money to spend on other things, but….

And for everyone who has had to learn the hard way that just because you do not spend your money on nonsensical things does not mean you will automatically spent it on sensical things, decisions have to be made and they can be worse as well as better.

Granted that, what’s in your wallet?

PS And for defenders of religion who claim “all of the good those religions do” as an offset, charitable spending by religions is a tiny fraction of their bottom line. Some diocese, for example, spend more on lawyers and accountants than they do on charity.



  1. I think it would be more informative to separate out how much money is spent on solely religious services, without lumping in services whose primary purpose is not religious – like food stores, daycare, and church-owned businesses. A believer who shops for food in a halal store and pays for church day care would still have to shop for food and use daycare elsewhere. He may be saving money by going to local supermarket or using other daycare, but that would be a fraction of these payments. And only that premium that he pays now should be counted within the “religion economy” and considered to be opportunity cost.


    Comment by List of X — September 15, 2016 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

    • Well, it could have been done any number of ways. For one “The analysis did not take account of the value of financial or physical assets held by religious groups.” Other estimates put the numbers far higher, still others lower.

      It is a lot of commerce to take off the books, as it were.

      On Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 12:52 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 15, 2016 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

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