The study examines and finds a positive relationship between religious freedom and ten of the twelve pillars of global competitiveness, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (see example in chart). The study goes beyond simple correlations by empirically testing and finding the tandem effects of government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion (as measured by the Pew Research Center) to be detrimental to economic growth while controlling for 23 other theoretical, economic, political, social, and demographic factors.
On a global level, the ongoing cycle of religious regulation and hostilities in Egypt demonstrates the harm that is done when they are restricted, where its tourism industry has been adversely affected, among other sectors, and entrepreneurship by its youth has been stunted.
The study's findings are timely given the rising tide of restrictions on religious freedom documented by Pew Research, showing that 76% of the world's people currently live with high religious restrictions or hostilities. And the findings are especially relevant because the research shows that the largest markets for potential growth are in countries where religious freedom is highly restricted.
Given that religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes, advances in religious freedom are in the self-interest of businesses, governments and societies. While this observation does not suggest that religious freedom is the sole or even main anecdote to poor economic performance, it does suggest that religious freedom is related to economic success and innovation. Certainly, businesses would benefit from taking religious freedom considerations into account in their strategic planning, labor management and community interactions.
* The full report, “Is Religious Freedom Good for Business?: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis,” is available on the website of theInterdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion (IJRR). The authors of the study are Brian J. Grim, Georgetown University's Religious Liberty Project, and Greg Clark and Robert Edward Snyder, Brigham Young University's International Center for Law and Religion Studies.