Human Development Index, Catholicism, Christianity and Islam


Religion is one of the most influential aspect in one's life. It somehow dictates how we act on a particular way or method for it to be acceptable to the society. Today, three groups of religion are considered to be the biggest and have the most power in terms in developing nations or sovereign states. These religious groups are Catholicism, non-Catholic Christians and Islam.

In these article, a discussion on how these three religious groups have somehow affected human development. In saying human development, the use of HDI or Human Development Index is necessary. This index objectively describes life expectancy, education and income of citizens of the said country. An annual report is published. In 2014, Western countries dominate the top list with Norway leading it. In the table below, the first 20 countries with the highest HDI's are enumerated, with corresponding information on the percentage of their population belonging to the aforementioned religious congregations.


Country
HDI
% Catholics
% non-Catholic Christians
%
Islam
1.       Norway
94.4
4.0
84.0
4.0
2.       Australia
93.3
25.8
36.9
1.7
3.       Switzerland
91.7
38.3
33.3
6.2
4.       Netherlands
91.5
23.8
20.2
5.4
5.       United States
91.4
22.0
51.0
0.8
6.       Germany
91.1
30.0
32.0
5.0
7.       New Zealand
91.0
11.1
31.1
0.0
8.       Canada
90.2
38.6
29.0
2.8
9.       Singapore
90.1
5.6
11.1
14.8
10.   Denmark
90.0
1.8
80.4
3.6
11.   Ireland
89.9
82.6
13.0
0.0
12.   Sweden
89.8
2.1
64.6
5.2
13.   United Kingdom
89.2
8.9
50.1
4.6
14.   Hong Kong
89.1
5.6
5.6
1.4
15.   Korea, South
89.1
11.0
18.3
0.2
16.   Japan
89.0
1.0
1.0
0.1
17.   Israel
88.8
0.0
3.9
18.2
18.   France
88.4
63.0
2.0
7.5
19.   Belgium
88.1
56.8
7.2
6.3
20.   Austria
88.1
61.2
10.6
5.9

The table above shows that most in the top 20 have citizens adhering to the Catholic and Christian beliefs. It is good to note that only countries with population of at least 1 million are included in the evaluation. Those countries without data on HDI and proportion of the population as part of the mentioned religious groups are excluded in the list. A total of 151 countries and territories were evaluated. Furthermore, on the second table found below, the bottom 20 countries are also enumerated. The table depicts that most of the residents of the countries with the lowest HDI's are adhering to Islam. This, however is not conclusive as more statistical test must be employed to see the clearer perspective of the data.

Country
HDI
% Catholics
% non-Catholic Christians
%
Islam
1.       Niger
33.7
0.0
5.1
98.3
2.       Congo
33.8
50.1
42.1
1.3
3.       Central African Republic
34.1
28.3
50.0
8.7
4.       Chad
37.2
20.3
14.8
55.5
5.       Sierra Leone
37.4
3.3
26.2
72.1
6.       Eritrea
38.1
60.3
1.6
36.5
7.       Burkina Faso
38.8
17.8
4.1
59.2
8.       Burundi
38.9
59.8
14.7
2.0
9.       Guinea
39.2
5.1
5.1
84.6
10.   Mozambique
39.3
28.3
27.5
22.9
11.   Guinea-Bissau
39.6
11.8
0.0
41.2
12.   Mali
40.7
0.0
0.0
92.2
13.   Liberia
41.2
0.0
86.0
14.0
14.   Malawi
41.4
0.0
0.0
12.8
15.   Ethiopia
43.5
0.0
63.4
33.8
16.   Gambia
44.1
0.0
5.6
94.4
17.   Côte d'Ivoire
45.2
29.1
3.9
36.9
18.   Afghanistan
46.8
0.0
0.0
99.7
19.   Haiti
47.1
79.6
15.5
0.0
20.   Sudan
47.3
0.0
0.0
71.3

Using Pearson correlation coefficient, a statistical value is derived from the groups of data. Here are the general findings:

  1. Between HDI and Catholicism, the computed value is 0.134 with p-value of 0.100
  2. Between HDI and non-Catholic Christians, the computed value is 0.0731 with p-value of 0.372
  3. Between HDi and Islam, the computed value is -0.2391 with p-value of 0.003.
Generally, the higher the computed value, the stronger the relationship of the data. The computed can have a positive or inverse association. Aside from the computed value, a p-value is obtained to determine the significance of the relationship. The lower the p-value, the higher degree of confidence that there is a significant association of the data.

In simpler terms, what can we say from the data;


  • With 10% margin of error, the higher the percentage of Catholics in a country, the more developed the country will be. The margin of error is too high, since the acceptable range should be less than or equal to 5%. However, this shows that there is a weak positive relationship between HDI and the population percentage for Catholics. In the table below, a list of countries with at least 1 million citizens having the greatest proportion of Catholics. The weak positive relationship is seen perhaps because the list itself manifest that those with greatest percentage of Catholics also has low HDI levels, such as Timor-Leste (62.0), Paraguay (67.6), Haiti (47.1) and the Philippines (66.0). However, noticeably most countries in the list have good HDI levels.
Country
% Catholics
1.       Timor-Leste
100.0
2.       Paraguay
88.2
3.       Poland
86.4
4.       Italy
85.1
5.       Cuba
85.0
6.       Mexico
82.7
7.       Ireland
82.6
8.       Portugal
81.1
9.       Peru
80.9
10.   Philippines
80.0
11.   Dominican Republic
79.8
12.   Haiti
79.6
13.   Panama
79.5
14.   Venezuela
78.9
15.   Argentina
77.1
16.   Lithuania
76.7
17.   Bolivia
75.7
18.   Colombia
74.9
19.   Slovakia
74.5
20.   Ecuador
73.9
  • There is no significant association between the percentage of non-Catholic Christians and their HDI levels. This means that some Christian countries have good HDI levels, such as Greece, Norway, Finland and Denmark. However, a good number of these non-Catholic Christian nations have HDI levels, which are very low, such as Liberia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea and Botswana.
Country
% Non-Catholic Christians
1.       Greece
97.3
2.       Armenia
96.7
3.       Moldova
94.3
4.       Romania
94.0
5.       Georgia
88.4
6.       Liberia
86.0
7.       Norway
84.0
8.       Bulgaria
83.3
9.       Finland
81.5
10.   Denmark
80.4
11.   Serbia
78.9
12.   Namibia
78.3
13.   Zimbabwe
77.3
14.   Ukraine
76.8
15.   Russia
76.0
16.   South Africa
75.0
17.   Cyprus
72.7
18.   Zambia
71.7
19.   Papua New Guinea
69.9
20.   Botswana
65.0
  • Although other factors may have influenced HDI levels, the greater percentage of Muslims in a country, the HDI level becomes lower. This finding has less than 1% margin of error. This, however, does not conclude that it is the religion that made HDI level lower. Other factors may have contributed to this data that is not within the scope of this article. However, evidently countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Niger, Syria, Mali and Bangladesh have low HDI levels. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco and Libya have better HDI levels. 
Country
% Islam
1.       Morocco
Tunisia
Mauritania
100.0

2.       Afghanistan
Iran
99.7
3.       Yemen
99.2
4.       Iraq
Tajikistan
98.8
5.       Turkey
98.7
6.       Jordan
98.6
7.       Niger
98.3
8.       Algeria
98.2
9.       Azerbaijan
97.9
10.   Saudi Arabia
97.2
11.   Libya
96.8
12.   Uzbekistan
96.5
13.   Pakistan
96.4
14.   Senegal
95.7
15.   Egypt
94.6
16.   Gambia
94.4
17.   Turkmenistan
94.2
18.   Syria
92.7
19.   Mali
92.2
20.   Bangladesh
90.4

Lastly, this article does not make conclusions or suggestions that certain religion is better than the other. The intention is purely academic and to initiate good discussions on how life of individuals can be improved, given that there exists similarities among those countries having high and low HDI levels. This article does not hope to create schisms among religious groups, instead this article must serve as a springboard or leverage to gather more knowledge to improve the lives of people, irregardless of faith or belief.

The data used on this article is found below:

Country
HDI
% Catholics
% non-Catholic Christians
%
Islam
Afghanistan
46.8
0.0
0.0
99.7
Albania
71.6
9.4
6.3
81.3
Algeria
71.7
1.0
1.0
98.2
Angola
52.6
50.2
25.1
0.9
Argentina
80.0
77.1
13.0
2.4
Armenia
73.0
3.3
96.7
0.0
Australia
93.3
25.8
36.9
1.7
Austria
88.1
61.2
10.6
5.9
Azerbaijan
74.7
0.0
5.3
97.9
Bahrain
81.5
0.0
7.7
84.6
Bangladesh
55.8
0.3
0.0
90.4
Belarus
78.6
7.4
47.9
0.0
Belgium
88.1
56.8
7.2
6.3
Benin
47.6
27.2
14.6
24.3
Bolivia
66.7
75.7
13.1
0.0
Bosnia and Herzegovina
73.1
15.8
36.8
42.1
Botswana
68.3
5.0
65.0
0.0
Brazil
74.4
63.0
27.0
0.1
Bulgaria
77.7
1.4
83.3
13.9
Burkina Faso
38.8
17.8
4.1
59.2
Burundi
38.9
59.8
14.7
2.0
Cambodia
58.4
0.0
0.7
1.3
Cameroon
50.4
38.6
26.5
17.9
Canada
90.2
38.6
29.0
2.8
Central African Republic
34.1
28.3
50.0
8.7
Chad
37.2
20.3
14.8
55.5
Chile
82.2
67.0
19.9
0.0
Colombia
71.1
74.9
14.9
0.0
Congo
33.8
50.1
42.1
1.3
Costa Rica
76.3
69.4
14.3
0.0
Côte d'Ivoire
45.2
29.1
3.9
36.9
Croatia
81.2
69.8
20.9
2.3
Cuba
81.5
85.0
0.0
0.0
Cyprus
84.5
0.0
72.7
18.2
Czech Republic
86.1
10.3
0.9
0.0
Denmark
90.0
1.8
80.4
3.6
Dominican Republic
70.0
79.8
0.0
0.0
Ecuador
71.1
73.9
19.7
0.0
Egypt
68.2
0.0
18.0
94.6
El Salvador
66.2
52.4
28.6
0.0
Eritrea
38.1
60.3
1.6
36.5
Estonia
84.0
0.0
23.1
0.0
Ethiopia
43.5
0.0
63.4
33.8
Finland
87.9
0.0
81.5
0.0
France
88.4
63.0
2.0
7.5
Gabon
67.4
52.9
23.5
11.8
Gambia
44.1
0.0
5.6
94.4
Georgia
74.4
0.0
88.4
11.6
Germany
91.1
30.0
32.0
5.0
Ghana
57.3
13.1
55.6
16.2
Greece
85.3
0.0
97.3
4.5
Guatemala
62.8
47.1
40.0
0.0
Guinea
39.2
5.1
5.1
84.6
Guinea-Bissau
39.6
11.8
0.0
41.2
Haiti
47.1
79.6
15.5
0.0
Honduras
61.7
46.9
39.5
0.0
Hong Kong
89.1
5.6
5.6
1.4
Hungary
81.8
70.0
12.0
0.0
India
58.6
1.6
1.0
14.6
Indonesia
68.4
3.0
7.0
88.1
Iran
74.9
0.0
0.4
99.7
Iraq
64.2
0.0
3.0
98.8
Ireland
89.9
82.6
13.0
0.0
Israel
88.8
0.0
3.9
18.2
Italy
87.2
85.1
0.0
2.6
Jamaica
71.5
3.6
64.3
0.0
Japan
89.0
1.0
1.0
0.1
Jordan
74.5
0.0
0.0
98.6
Kazakhstan
75.7
15.9
50.0
56.1
Kenya
53.5
23.4
61.7
7.0
Korea, South
89.1
11.0
18.3
0.2
Kuwait
81.4
2.9
11.8
85.3
Kyrgyzstan
62.8
0.0
16.4
89.1
Laos
56.9
1.5
1.5
0.0
Latvia
81.0
23.8
33.3
0.0
Lebanon
76.5
25.0
14.6
60.4
Lesotho
48.6
42.9
42.9
0.0
Liberia
41.2
0.0
86.0
14.0
Libya
78.4
0.0
1.6
96.8
Lithuania
83.4
76.7
6.7
0.0
Macedonia, Republic of
73.2
0.0
0.0
33.3
Madagascar
49.8
0.0
0.0
1.3
Malawi
41.4
0.0
0.0
12.8
Malaysia
77.3
0.0
0.0
61.3
Mali
40.7
0.0
0.0
92.2
Mauritania
48.7
0.0
0.0
100.0
Mauritius
77.1
0.0
0.0
16.7
Mexico
75.6
82.7
9.7
0.1
Moldova
66.3
0.0
94.3
0.0
Mongolia
69.8
0.0
0.0
3.6
Morocco
61.7
0.0
2.1
100.0
Mozambique
39.3
28.3
27.5
22.9
Myanmar
52.4
0.9
6.9
3.8
Namibia
62.6
13.0
78.3
0.0
Nepal
54.0
0.0
0.7
4.3
Netherlands
91.5
23.8
20.2
5.4
New Zealand
91.0
11.1
31.1
0.0
Nicaragua
61.4
59.0
31.1
0.0
Niger
33.7
0.0
5.1
98.3
Nigeria
50.4
14.0
36.0
47.9
Norway
94.4
4.0
84.0
4.0
Oman
78.3
2.8
0.0
88.9
Pakistan
53.7
0.8
0.8
96.4
Panama
76.5
79.5
12.8
0.0
Papua New Guinea
49.1
27.4
69.9
0.0
Paraguay
67.6
88.2
7.4
0.0
Peru
73.7
80.9
15.1
0.0
Philippines
66.0
80.0
5.0
5.1
Poland
83.4
86.4
8.1
0.0
Portugal
82.2
81.1
2.8
0.9
Qatar
85.1
0.0
0.0
77.3
Republic of Congo
56.4
50.0
40.9
2.3
Romania
78.5
5.5
94.0
0.5
Russia
77.8
0.0
76.0
11.7
Rwanda
50.6
56.8
26.3
1.7
Saudi Arabia
83.6
3.5
2.1
97.2
Senegal
48.5
4.3
2.8
95.7
Serbia
74.5
5.3
78.9
4.2
Sierra Leone
37.4
3.3
26.2
72.1
Singapore
90.1
5.6
11.1
14.8
Slovakia
83.0
74.5
10.9
0.0
Slovenia
87.4
57.1
23.8
4.8
South Africa
65.8
4.9
75.0
1.5
Spain
86.9
71.0
1.9
2.3
Sri Lanka
75.0
6.1
1.4
8.5
Sudan
47.3
0.0
0.0
71.3
Swaziland
53.0
25.0
58.3
0.0
Sweden
89.8
2.1
64.6
5.2
Switzerland
91.7
38.3
33.3
6.2
Syria
65.8
0.0
10.0
92.7
Tajikistan
60.7
0.0
1.2
98.8
Tanzania
48.8
0.0
0.0
29.8
Thailand
72.2
0.4
0.3
5.8
Timor-Leste
62.0
100.0
0.0
0.0
Togo
47.3
0.0
0.0
11.8
Trinidad and Tobago
76.6
23.1
30.8
7.7
Tunisia
72.1
0.0
0.0
100.0
Turkey
75.9
0.0
0.0
98.7
Turkmenistan
69.8
0.0
9.6
94.2
Uganda
48.4
42.0
46.8
12.0
Ukraine
73.4
6.0
76.8
0.9
United Arab Emirates
82.7
7.5
2.2
76.3
United Kingdom
89.2
8.9
50.1
4.6
United States
91.4
22.0
51.0
0.8
Uruguay
79.0
47.1
11.8
0.0
Uzbekistan
66.1
2.8
0.0
96.5
Venezuela
76.4
78.9
7.9
0.3
Vietnam
63.8
7.0
1.0
0.2
Yemen
50.0
0.0
0.0
99.2
Zambia
56.1
24.8
71.7
0.7
Zimbabwe
49.2
7.1
77.3
0.7


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