Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?

Not my original idea for a post title, taken verbatim from this New York Times article. Very interesting read.

Now, though I was born into a Hindu family, I consider myself an apatheist – I don’t really care about religion. I like and enjoy the social aspects of religious festivities, be it Durga Pujo or Christmas or Eid (love the biriyani): the get-together with family and friends, the ‘adda’, the meals (food, oh food!), the general warm atmosphere. I do not, however, go to a designated place of worship (a temple, for example) to pray or find solace or whatever else people make such trips for.

This above disclaimer was necessary because the graph in the NYT article puts Hindus as the second religious groups (behind Reform Jews) in the list of ‘Percentage of Households with an Annual Income above $75K’. And since I’m born Hindu just wanted to mention that ….and the completely different fact why I think this article is noteworthy.

“Many factors are behind the discrepancies among religions, but one stands out. The relationship between education and income is so strong that you can almost draw a line through the points on this graph. Social science rarely produces results this clean.”

Here is the graph, in case you haven’t yet gone to the article:

Time and again, this has surfaced across various studies. Here’s another one for instance. The fact is: having a higher degree, generally means more income during the lifetime.

My own inference:

1. Indians, and more specifically the Indians in the US, generally have at least a college degree, and in a lot of cases, even a higher one.

2. Majority of Indians are Hindus.

Cross reference 1, 2 and higher-degree-leads-to-more-earning paradigm, and you get the tempered conclusion that Hindus earn more.

[There are a couple of reasons behind this post. I see so many young kids not opting for college once they complete their high school. Feels like they are just throwing away a chance for a better life, specially the ones from not so great socio-economic background. Till a few weeks ago, for 2 months, I was ‘e-mentoring’ a high school kid, through a program at work where they partner up with a local high school and give students an opportunity to look at professional conduct/responsibilities/duties through a set of supervised e-mail interaction between an employee and a student. We were given guidelines to cover a range of topics like college experience, job experience, attendance, time management. When we were covering college experience I was struggling to convince this kid that college is good for you. Then came across the NYT article today.]

Categories: Demystify, Economics | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?

  1. Neha Arya

    You are a great mentor(personally I would recommend you to every school). I really hope the kid whom you were corresponding with goes to college.

  2. I think you also have to account for background. Many American Indians are immigrants or first generation. They are children of people who had the ability to move (or pay to move) for better education opportunities and jobs. Now I am from a Catholic family, my father and all of my uncles made a middle-class income doing union-work, jobs that don’t require college education. My parents easily cleared the 75k mark for most of my life. Now both I and my brother chose to go to college but many friends did not, the expectation is that you will make the same kind of money your parents did. Now we know this isn’t true, now but 10 years ago when the housing market was booming, it was true.

    I guess my point is that education begets education. My parents knew nothing about the college application process, navigating it myself was difficult. If you come from a foundation of knowledge about higher education, its just easier to pursue it.

    • Absolutely, can’t agree more on either of your points. But a cycle of no-education begets no-education, has to be broken somewhere and sometime. People need to be aware of such facts that an education is directly correlated to higher income, however daunting 4 years of college looks like. Here is the sad part: even after knowing such facts a lot of people make a choice to not pursue.

  3. I LOVE the term apatheist. I just really don’t care.

    Got your comment on my site – yes, I have read Franzen. I have a hard time reading him, but never regret reading him. I was just thinking about Freedom the other and to me, that is the mark of a compelling author. A writer who is still making me think about one of their works over a year later is the mark of a damned good writer.

    I have heard really mixed reviews of Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad – which is exactly why I won’t pay for it and will just patiently wait for my copy from the library.

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