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Prayer Less Common in Wealthier Nations, Save for the U.S.

The U.S. is an outlier in a global trend of prayer decreasing as national wealth increases, according to a Pew Research Center analysis published May 1.

Drawing on previous data from 2014-15 global surveys, Pew observed a correlation between a nation’s per-capita gross GDP and the frequency of reported prayer by citizens.

With few outliers, as a nation’s wealth increased, the percentage of adult citizens who pray daily decreased.

The U.S. was an exception, having one of the highest grossing GDPs at $55,000 per-capita (trailing only Norway and Switzerland), and an above average level of prayer with 55% of adults praying daily.

By contrast, only 18% reported praying daily in Norway and less than 10% in Switzerland. Overall, an average of 49% of global adults pray daily.

“At the other end of the economic spectrum, countries with less wealth tend to have higher rates of prayer,” the report said. “In fact, every country where at least 70% of adults say that they pray each day has a per-capita GDP under $20,000.”

Other outliers in addition to the U.S. noted in the report were Vietnam ($6,000 GDP; 14% daily prayer) and Bulgaria ($19,000 GDP; 15% daily prayer).

China had the fewest number of adults report daily prayer (1%), while Afghanistan had the highest number (96%), just ahead of Nigeria (95%).

The full report is available here.