Every day, the economist Daniel Hungerman looks at the graph that hangs above his desk at the University of Notre Dame. One jagged line goes down and up. This is America’s gross domestic product since 1972. Another jagged line goes up and down. This is the religiosity of Americans over the same period, as measured by church attendance. The lines show an almost exact inverse correlation.
“You can see as clear as day a negative relationship in this picture,” says Hungerman, who threw the chart together for fun. “When the business cycle goes up, religious attendance goes down, and vice versa. The good mystery is why.”
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