The Great Recession and Wealth in the United States: Differentials by Religious Affiliation

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International Journal of Social Economics



The purpose of this paper is to examine wealth dynamics through the Great Recession along a dimension previously not studied, religious affiliation. Specifically, this paper analyzes wealth differentials and relative wealth losses among religious groups at the mean and along the wealth distribution before and after the Great Recession.


Drawing on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and including a wide array of control variables, the paper analyzes the impact of religious affiliation groups on wealth pre- and post-Recession, using OLS, generalized least squares and quantile regression models.


The findings show that wealth differentials among religious groups exist both before and after the Recession and that wealth disparities are greater for people at the low end of the wealth distribution, who lost disproportionately more wealth across religious groups.

Social implications

The results suggest that the Great Recession further increased wealth inequality yet along another dimension, religious affiliation. These findings imply that in order to decrease wealth inequality and minimize other harmful effects of adverse macroeconomic events, religious institutions may provide education on financial management strategies, especially to those at the low end of the wealth distribution.


This paper is the first of its kind to build upon two bodies of literature: the research on religion and wealth and the research on wealth losses and the Great Recession. It is also the first paper to explore the religion–wealth relationship after the Great Recession and along the wealth distribution.